A start-up behind a new firefighting drone claims it has the solution to make wildfire prevention safer.
Drone Amplified, a business born out of Nebraska University, has developed a new drone system called Ignis that allows firefighters to start small, prescribed fires to burn away potentially dangerous vegetation preventing future forest fires.
Ignis utilises small chemical spheres that are mounted on drones before being dropped over areas of forest at risk of fuelling future fires.
The spheres are then ignited remotely to spark a fire, destroying the potentially dangerous vegetation.
One single payload of the small, ping-pong ball-sized chemical spheres can ignite between 50-75 acres.
The Ignis system comes with an integrated drone and can also be installed on a variety of other drones to help keep the system flexible for emergency services.
Alongside the payload delivery system, Ignis comes with a thermal imaging camera allowing emergency services to work at night, an option not available during manned helicopter flights over fires.
Drone Amplified’s chief engineer, Jim Higgins, said: “Our product fills a niche in the market between a helicopter, which is expensive, and hand lighting, where people have to walk or take a four-wheeler.
“It allows crews to ignite large, complex burns without the danger factor.”
The system is also accompanied by an app that allows operators to automate tasks such as flight duration, altitude and payload delivery locations.
Chief app developer, Evan Beachly, added: “We get a lot of great responses from customers about these small features, which really makes the system work better for them.
“Our software adds autonomy and mission planning, allowing users to set it all up and press ‘go.’”