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Airdate: Oct 15, 2007
Scientist: Vince Ambrosia

Fire Fighting UAV - Finding

Fire Fighting UAV - Finding
A sensor providing real-time information on forest fire movement could be a useful new tool for firefighters.

Transcript:
Ambience: UAV taking off
Music

Forest fires are formidable opponents fast moving and unpredictable. Accurate real-time information is one of the keys to controlling them. I’m Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Vince Ambrosia is a Senior Research Scientist at California State University, Monterrey Bay. He’s been developing a new tool to help fight forest fires a fire-detecting sensor that rides on an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or UAV. We’re listening to the sounds of one of these aircraft.

“The project that we're working on is a wildfire observations from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle systems project, that focuses on observing wildfire conditions with thermal infrared scanners and then sending that data in real time to fire management crews on the ground. The sensor is about a two hundred pound instrument that flies on a large UAV. And the sensor collects information in twelve spectral channels of the electromagnetic spectrum. From the visible into the near infrared and throughout the thermal portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. So, what we are particularly interested in looking at fires is the thermal portion of the spectrum where we can see hot sources. So, very hot sources such as flame temperatures emit heat in the thermal part of the spectrum. That shows up as a visual cue, basically like a photographic image. But we're imaging in regions that are beyond the capabilities of human eyesight. So very similar to thermal detection systems that measure body heat, our sensor is configured to measure higher temperature sources, such as fires, to locate their fire front activity and the cooling down activities behind the fire front.”

By knowing precisely where the hot spots are, firefighting teams can combat fires in a safer and more effective way. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation, with additional support from NASA.