Colorado beta testing drone system that would enhance firefighters’ situational awareness

(Originally published at Wildfire Today)

The state of Colorado is working on a system that would use drones to provide live video of wildfires to wildland firefighters’ cell phones. The Center of Excellence for Advanced Technology Aerial Firefighting is beta testing a DVI Mavic drone that would push the real time video to firefighters using software developed by the military, Android Team Awareness Kit (ATAK).

The program has the capability of displaying data from tracking devices carried by soldiers, or firefighters, and identifying their location on a map, which in this case could also show the fire in real time.

If they are successful in developing and implementing a system that can provide to fire managers real time information about the location of a wildfire AND firefighting resources, it would achieve what we call the Holy Grail of Wildland Firefighter Safety — knowing those two elements of information.

The DJI Mavic can only stay in the air for 20 to 30 minutes before having to return to base to replace the battery. So this beta test is probably only a proof of concept attempt, perhaps leading to a more robust drone, rotor or fixed wing, that could stay in the air for a much longer period of time.

PIlatus PC12 Colorado
One of the two State of Colorado’s Pilatus PC12’s, was photographed in March of 2016 in Sacramento.

Colorado already has the ability to transmit near real time imagery of fires from their two MultiMission Aircraft, Pilatus PC12’s. They are integrated with the Colorado Wildfire Information System, a geospatial database that displays incident images and details to local fire managers through a web based application.

5 thoughts on “Colorado beta testing drone system that would enhance firefighters’ situational awareness”

  1. I ran the N number (N3275F) on the Colorado Pilatus with “FlightAware” and came up with a Moony 20 operating out of Virginia. S’up with that?

      1. N327SF active, N337SF no joy. I’ll take another look in the future. Pray for rain ?. Thanks for your great reporting!!

  2. Serial Number 511 Status Valid
    Manufacturer Name PILATUS Certificate Issue Date 03/19/2015
    Model PC-12/45 Expiration Date 03/31/2021
    Type Aircraft Fixed Wing Single-Engine Type Engine Turbo-prop
    Pending Number Change None Dealer No
    Date Change Authorized None Mode S Code (base 8 / oct) 50704747
    MFR Year 2003 Mode S Code (base 16 / hex) A389E7
    Type Registration Government Fractional Owner NO
    Registered Owner
    Street 690 KIPLING ST STE 2000

    County DENVER Zip Code 80215-5901
    Engine Manufacturer P&W Classification Standard
    Engine Model PT6A SER Category Normal
    A/W Date 09/03/2003 Exception Code No

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