Insitu Pacific, the Australia-based subsidiary of Insitu Inc., says 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 86,000 acres of bushland since December 2013.
Insitu Pacific 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, says the company.
The trial was a collaborative effort between Insitu Pacific and General Dynamics Mediaware. Insitu Pacific employed General Dynamics Mediaware's next-generation video exploitation system, 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.