Drone startup Robotto has developed its Autonomous Wildfire Recognition and Analytics (AWRA) drone to help firefighters better understand an active wildfire and stay one step ahead of it. Robotto is a spin-off of a full-year bachelor thesis in robotics at Aalborg University in Denmark.
The company was created in 2018 as the northern hemisphere was facing one of its most challenging fire seasons, so the founders looked to technology to see if it could help.
Working with the Danish Emergency Management Agency (DEMA) resulted in Robotto developing an aerial-based fire detection platform known today as the AWRA drone. Using the drone is a fairly simple task, only requiring a small amount of setup.
The first step is for the fire commander to draw a box of an incident area in the app. The drone will then search the specified area for any fire signs while avoiding obstacles and smoke in the area. Once a fire is located, the data is fed into Robotto’s algorithm to determine the location, size, and travel direction.
All of the data processing happens on the drone to ensure it is still operational even if it loses connection to the ground station. While there is a reliable connection, the data collected by the drone is streamed down multiple times a second, updating a map with the fire data.
Jacobo Domingo Gil, COO at Robotto, shared:
A path also needs to be opened for technology to break into well-established industries like firefighting. To do this, we need regulation to advance at the same pace as innovation and help us integrate with the already established methods.
At this point, the fire commander and any other ground crew looking at the data have a full overview of the fire in terms of the speed and direction it’s moving in, the size of the fire, and if there are any homes nearby that could eventually be in the firing line.
Robotto’s technology is centered around the detection algorithm and artificial intelligence. The drone can be adjusted for use outside of fires. As long as the drone is trained to find a specific object, it is perfect for search and rescue operations, powerline inspections, agriculture, and first responders.