Spanish telecommunications giant Telefónica has carried out a pilot in Madrid that utilises drones in an attempt to help with the early detection of forest fires.
The pilot, which was carried out in collaboration with the Carlos III University of Madrid, Divisek and Dronitec, saw a hangar with a drone placed within the firm’s telecommunications towers.
The drones were equipped with sensors and both a thermal camera and an optical one, and when a fire was detected by the sensors, the drone would fly autonomously to that point.
Even in conditions of low visibility, the drone would then collect optical and thermal images and send all the information it collects to the emergency services.
Vicente Muñoz, Chief IoT Officer of Telefónica, said: “The evolution of unmanned vehicles such as drones, improvements in sensors and IoT communication networks are revolutionising the monitoring of all kinds of infrastructures and the management of emergencies such as fighting forest fires.
“Thanks to IoT technology, fires can be detected early and vital information can be known to make better decisions at an early stage, which can help to quell an emerging fire so that it does not lead to a large devastating one.”
The system also allows the emergency control centre to take control of the drone at any time to gather more information and track the fire environment.
Once the mission is over, the drone returns to the hangar and gets ready for future flights automatically recharging its batteries.
It is the first step towards the development of services to contribute to preventing forest fires with technology and thus reversing the figures that make Spain the European country most affected by forest fires, with 7,143 fires and 25,162.44 hectares devastated by flames in 2018.