Drone technology combined with The internet of things (IoT) will now play a crucial role in helping contain forest fires by detecting and communicating information to emergency services in real time around the Madrid Autonomous Region. The system, composed of drone technology developed by the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) and a communication system developed by Telefónica, can detect the origin of a fire within a perimeter of up to 15 kilometers, or a little over 9 miles.
The system that these groups have created incorporates a network of communications towers, each one of which is equipped with both a thermal camera and a quadcopter drone that is stored within an integrated hangar. Using its camera, the tower is able to detect the thermal signature of forest fires that are beginning within a 15-km (9-mile) radius of itself.
When a fire is detected, the tower’s computer determines the geographical location of the blaze, and then “awakens” the drone by sending it an email with those coordinates – that same email is also sent to a fire-fighting crew at a base station. The GPS-guided drone proceeds to autonomously fly out to the fire, using its own thermal and optical cameras to obtain and transmit visuals back to the firefighters.
Based on the visuals emergency responders can then instruct the drone to fly over a specific area, in order to get a more complete picture of what the fire entails. After mission completion the aircraft heads back to the tower and lands in its hangar, where its battery is automatically recharged.
In this pilot study UC3M developed the entire autonomous flight system and the interface that the emergency service uses to view information in real time; Divisek developed the autonomous drone recharging system; and Dronitec collaborated with the other three organizations in all the services associated with the drone. Telefónica’s existing infrastructure was used to provide the real-time data connectivity.
Vicente Muñoz, chief IoT officer of Telefónica said,“Thanks to IoT technology, fires can be detected early and vital information can be known to make better decisions at an early stage, which can help to quell an emerging fire so that it does not lead to a large devastating one.”
UC3M professor Fernando Garcia pointed, “The drone we have developed for the project has a thermal camera, an optical camera, and four sensors which allow us to identify the temperature of the device in the environment, the drone’s different controllers enable us to determine the internal state of the equipment and the communication system is provided by Telefonica to receive this information in real time,”
According to statistical data from 2018 Spain is the country most affected by forest fires in Europe. This initiative, which has been tested on a trial basis in conjunction with the emergency services of the Madrid Autonomous Region, is the first step toward development of technological services that will aid in preventing forest fires. The objective is to stay one step ahead of the information, improve decision-making and turn around the statistics.
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