Insitu Pacific deploys ‘ScanEagle’ unmanned aircraft as fire management tool
Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based subsidiary of Insitu Inc., announced on May 15 that it recently conducted a successful demonstration for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) using the ScanEagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
The demonstration took place in January over the Wollemi National Park, 150 km northwest of Sydney, where fires have burned more than 35,000 hectares of bushland since December 2013.
Insitu Pacific successfully demonstrated the operational utility of ScanEagle to monitor and report on the movement of the fire front at night — a task rarely undertaken at low altitude by manned aircraft due to the high risk factors involved.
The success of the trial is attributed to a collaborative effort between Insitu Pacific and General Dynamics Mediaware. Insitu Pacific employed General Dynamics Mediaware’s next-generation video exploitation system, known as D-VEX, to stream full-motion video imagery alongside geo-location information in near real time.
Fire commanders used the imagery to assess the movement of the fire front and pinpoint the locations of high-risk spot fires well ahead of the front itself. As a result, response assets were mobilized more quickly and safely, because their position relative to the location and movement of the fire could be actively monitored from the emergency services headquarters.
“This technology is a game changer for emergency services and first responders,” said Insitu Pacific’s managing director, Andrew Duggan. “We have proven systems that offer substantial capability advantages in this domain and will also enhance the safety of the personnel responding to an emergency. This event was a great success and the main objective now is to continue to work with CASA to enable flexible airspace approvals for various emergency response scenarios.”
“Combining the imagery captured by the ScanEagle with D-VEX‘s next-generation video analytics provided the New South Wales Rural Fire Service with enhanced situational awareness and real-time actionable intelligence to extend the capabilities of firefighting services around the clock,” said General Dynamics Mediaware Chief Technology Officer Kevin Moore. “We see this demonstration as the start of a new type of fire response that has the potential to save agencies time, money and most importantly, lives.”