Drones armed with cameras and sensor payloads have been used by military and border control agencies for decades in order to improve situational awareness. They 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 is some information from The Fire Chief about drone technologies for fire and emergency response operations.
1. ELIMCO E300
This is a UAV with a large payload capacity and low-noise electrical propulsion being used by INFOCA, the Andalusian authority for the wildfire management 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. 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.
2. Sensefly’s Ebee
Switzerland-based Sensefly’s eBee drones are small in comparison to other drones; they have a 37.8-inch wingspan and weigh 1.5 pounds. The foam airframe eBee drones are equipped with a rear-mounted propeller and feature a 16-megapixel camera to shoot aerial imagery at down to 3cm/pixel resolution.
The drone has a flight time of up to 45 minutes, which is long enough to cover as far as 10 miles in a single flight. In addition, users can pre-program 3D flight plans using Google maps prior to deployment, with up to 10 drones controlled from a single base station. Then, using its Postflight Terra 3D-EB mapping software, it can create maps and elevation models with a precision of 5 centimeters and process aerial imagery into 3D models.
3. Information Processing Systems (IPS)
IPS Mobile Command Vehicles and incident command mobile carts are deployable, customized, public-safety vehicles that integrate aerial, ground and subsurface remotely controlled robotic platforms. MCVs basically are custom mobile ground control station for UAVs and other public-safety robotics.
The truck can house security cameras, sensors, radar and communications infrastructure. It can be outfitted with trailers to carry drones, which then can be commanded form within the center.
Having a mobile command center for drone deployment allows wildland firefighters working in remote areas to take their entire communication system with them to launch a UAV or drones over a wildfire and map out affected areas.
4. L3 Communication’s Viking 400-S
The Viking 400-S Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is integrated with Autonomous Take-Off and Landing technology supplied by L-3 Unmanned Systems’ flightTEK system. It 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.