Drones armed with cameras and sensor payloads have been used by military and border control agencies for decades to improve situational awareness. Commercialization now has brought more UAVs, or unmanned aerial vehicles, to market — making the technology more accessible to fire, EMS and emergency departments.
These eyes-in-the-sky can be used across public-safety services, from transmitting birds-eye video of a forest fire to incident commanders to mapping out hard-hit areas after a natural disaster. Here are five drone technologies worth watching for fire and emergency response operations.
1. ELIMCO’s E300 with FÉNIX
The ELIMOC E300 is a UAV with a large payload capacity and low-noise electrical propulsion being used by INFOCA, the Andalusian authority for the management of wildfires in Spain, to track wildfires at night.
The E300 can be launched remotely and operated for 1.5 hours with a radio control from up to 27 miles away. However, during night flights, the E-300 can loiter over a fire for around 3 hours and get as far as 62 miles from the launching point.
It is important to improve night wildland firefighting using technology, as a lull in firefighting efforts during the night lets wildfires expand. The night UAV with specific payloads can fly directly above the wildfire area to record video of the fire line, including thermal images that are then geo-tagged and relayed in real time to mobile command centers using the company’s planning and monitoring system for forest fire fighting (FÉNIX). FÉNIX lets operators locate and address spots in a forest fire in real time using a mapping application.
2. L3 Communication’s Viking 400-S
The Viking 400-S Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is integrated with Autonomous Take-Off and Landing (ATOL) technology supplied by L-3 Unmanned Systems’ flightTEK system. The UAS operates for up to 12 hours and can be equipped with up to 100 pounds of payload technologies, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear detectors for hazmat emergencies.
The CBRN payload would let a first responder stay up to 70 miles line-of-sight away from a hazmat incident and, instead, send a drone to collect CBRN information from the scene and transmit it wirelessly back to incident command. UAS units carrying high-resolution cameras can capture bird’s-eye images of a manmade or natural disaster, which can help incident commanders identify hard-hit areas and prioritize resources.
Images captures are transmitted wirelessly back to into a GIS software suite for mapping an affected area and later reporting needs.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com