Problem: Brush fires in Western Australia had the potential to threaten lives and property, but manned aircraft support is only available to ground firefighters for approximately 12-14 hours per day during daylight hours only. This leaves a gap in aerial information and support; the team is essentially blind overnight, which is generally the most effective time to suppress a fire due to cooler and calmer conditions..
Requirements: The ground firefighting team required system that:
- Was rugged
- Provided night lighting
- Integrated with an advanced ground control station
- Could provide 24/7 data on fire intensity and location of hot spots while flying through wind, dust and smoke
Solution: The Indago quadrotor unmanned aerial system (UAS) enabled firefighters to maximize the effectiveness of nighttime operations. Indago streamed live video from its thermal sensor to the operators on the ground, who used the data to identify hot spots, fire location and intensity, and people and property who were at risk. The Indago helped to save an estimated 100 homes, worth more than $50 million. The video was disseminated locally through a WiFi connection, or streamed over a data connection that can be viewed on any computer or personal electronic device.
Using the Indago, firefighters were able to reduce the size and duration of the fire, reduce the impact on the community, and realize cost savings in managing the response.