1 Tahrcountry Musings: Drones that fly into a wildfire and send back information in real time

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Drones that fly into a wildfire and send back information in real time

Professor Andrew Bennett and his team of students from Robotics department of Olin College are at work to use drones to aid in fighting wildfires. Their drones will fly into wildfire and send back information in real time.
Professor Bennett was approached by Scientific Systems, a company that specializes in developing products that "collaboratively accomplish missions in difficult environments." armed with a NASA-funding to pay for the research. Highly impressed with their previous work, FAA has granted Olin College a research exemption to fly drones to "conduct research on its own behalf and on behalf of other research groups.” Professor Bennett was the brain behind SnotBot, which is a drone that collects whale blow via a sponge-like attachment on its underside. The drone captures the mucus and flies back to a boat. 
Right now, firefighters receive information on where a fire is headed from pilots and first-hand info from the field. This info is used to deploy fire bombers, personnel, and other resources. The flip side of this data is that the data can be 12-24 hours out of date and is often unreliable. If a fire shifts course, the firefighters may be caught on wrong foot and unprepared to quickly move resources to a new location. It is here that the new drone comes in handy. It will send back data immediately.

Professor Bennett said, "We can fly over land, water and sea. We have equipped our drones with 1080 quality video cameras, as well as thermal imaging cameras,” Great work Professor Bennett. We salute you.

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