ScanEagle drone demonstrated in firefighting role

Australian firefighters shown benefits of use of drones.

By Richard Tomkins

BRISBANE, Australia, May 14 (UPI) -- A ScanEagle unmanned aerial system has proven its worth to Australian firefighting officials, monitoring the movement of a bushfire at night.

The monitoring and reporting of the fire front movement was conducted from low altitude over the Wollemi National Park, northwest of the city of Sydney, where bush fires have burned more than 86,00 acres of land since December.


Insitu Pacific, the Australian subsidiary of the U.S. maker of the UAS, said the demonstration of ScanEagle capabilities was conducted for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, who used the imagery from ScanEagle to not only assess the movement of the fire front but also identify the locations of high-risk spot fires ahead of the front itself.

"This technology is a game changer for emergency services and first responders," said Insitu Pacific 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," he added.


CASA is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Insitu Pacific said the ScanEagle employed General Dynamics Mediaware's D-VEX video exploitation system to stream full-motion video imagery alongside geolocation information in nearly real time during the fire front monitoring demonstration.

"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."

General Dynamics Mediaware, based in Australia, is part of General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems. Insitu Inc., based in Washington State, is a subsidiary of Boeing.

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