5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 2:00 PM
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles—New Frontiers
Steve Wegener, NASA/AMes Research Center, Moffett Field, CA
The surveillance of critical facilities and national infrastructure such as forests, waterways, roadways, pipelines and utilities requires advanced technological tools to provide timely, up to date information on status and threats. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are uniquely suited for these tasks, having large payload and long duration capabilities. UAVs also have the capability to fly dangerous and dull missions, orbiting for 24 hours over a particular area or facility providing around the clock surveillance with no personnel onboard. This technology is developing rapidly with new UAV platforms and systems becoming available for commercial use. Currently, high altitude UAV platforms are being tested for use in communications, remote sensing, agriculture, forestry and disaster management. These application demonstrations are producing new requirements for payload capabilities and package dimensions. Smaller, lighter, lower power consumption imaging systems are also being developed to meet these needs and have recently been tested over fires to detect fire fronts and hotspots. Satellite communication systems that relay video, meteorological and chemical data to users on the ground in real time have also been demonstrated. The increased interest in homeland security and resource surveillance has resulted in the evaluation of UAV technology for infrastructure characterization and mapping. Many of the UAV technological developments required for land cover and disaster monitoring can fulfill security and reconnaissance mapping requirements. This presentation highlights the current UAV landscape, our First Response Experiment (FiRE), and thoughts for the future

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