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ETHON project

Aircraft with thermographic cameras and a sensor dispenser to facilitate the extinction of forest fires


A team of researchers from the Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV), belonging to the Group of Information Technologies and Communications against Climate Change (ICTvsCC) of the Institute of Information Technology and Communications (ITACA), has developed, under the Coordination of Professor José Vicente Oliver, a new aircraft that facilitates the comprehensive management of forest fires and extinction work.

The project, framed within ETHON – funded by the Valencian Agency of Innovation (AVI) – has resulted in a convertiplane prototype (very similar, in its operation, to that of an airplane) that has a thermal imager -like air sensor- and a terrestrial sensor dispenser that will offer key information for your objective, such as the levels of carbon dioxide and humidity in the area affected by the fire, as well as the intensity of the wind in it.

Registration of hard-to-reach areas and detailed accuracy of fire hot spots

David Vinué, researcher of the ICTvsCC-ITACA group of the UPV, explains that the terrestrial sensors “are inside a spherical housing with a gyroscope, and their distribution is carried out by means of an interchangeable tank of eight units that allows, as a bombardment, its dispersion. “

When distributed from the aircraft, these sensors allow data to be recorded for those areas that are most difficult for firefighters to access, such as troughs, creeks, slope areas or areas that are very dense or far from the escape routes, in addition to specifying in detail the hot spots of the fire.

Essential data for greater rigor in the declaration of extinguished fire

“The objective of this aircraft,” highlights José Vicente Oliver, member of the ICTvsCC of ITACA-UPV and project coordinator, “is to facilitate the work of extinction when a forest fire occurs. First, it would help to secure the perimeter and control the progress of the fire in areas of interest to the command, and then, it would help to control the isolated sources of fire and the possible reproductions of underground fire ”.

According to Raúl Quílez, forestry technician of the Fire Consortium of the Diputación de Valencia and collaborator of the UPV research group, “this new tool will provide essential data so that the direction of the extinction of a forest fire can declare it extinguished more precisely and with more technical rigor ”.

Vertical takeoff and flight due to fixed wing lift

The main novelty of the aircraft developed by the UPV researchers is the integration of thermography and sensors in the vehicle itself. In addition, it has the optimal characteristics for use in forested areas without infrastructure, as it takes off vertically and flies through the support of the fixed wing, with high autonomy with respect to the mobile wing drones. “In any case,” says Oliver, “mainly, innovation is based on integrating these three systems, thermography, sensors and aircraft, for a single purpose.”

The Valencian companies PYRO, UAV-WORKS and ETRA I+D also participated in the project, under the coordination of the UPV team.

Source: UPV’s Information Office