The Firedrone

Our use case for an urban firefighting drone (firedrone) won the grant from the University of Maryland CATT Lab for three sets of MetaGlasses and two pairs of Neurosky Mindwaves.  The first of its kind, our firedrone maximizes strategic leadership for firefighting in a variety of conditions and settings, exponentially increasing crew safety.

Charlie’s primary mission is to seek out survivors

Charlie I is an urban firedrone. It carries 3D depth-aware, thermal and hyperspectral sensors – it can see heat and infrared light and calculate trajectory of falling debris, provide ongoing “educated guess” computer analysis of chemical composition and air quality, allowing them to perceive and confirm live people regardless of visibility – as well as environmental monitoring sensors. Its is fully capable of facial recognition / distinguishing different individuals, people-counting, etc. to seek out human survivors; it carries a single payload, a (reloadable) canister of fire-retardant foam. (The firefighter piloting the drone can deploy the canister manually, but the drone has the ability to deploy autonomously as well). By default, Charlie I will remain with a survivor, can facilitate 2-way communication with the pilot and be made to manually continue seeking more survivors. The firedrone’s path is recorded along with its conditions and can be replayed/retraced to diminish risk to emergency personnel, and guide people out (“follow the drone”) based on safety.

Charlie II is a rural/wilderness firedrone designed expressly by request of FEMA. They do basically everything the Charlie I does, including prioritizing human survivability, but they do it in a fleet. Charlie IIs are designed for use at or behind the fire line between a forest canopy and the ground and cooperatively and proactively space themselves, follow the fireline, monitor and (hopefully) predict fire jumps, etc. in support of the human pilot. In the event they identify a human, a fleet drone will default to maintaining line-of-sight (including following the person) and can summon the fleet to patrol for more survivors or reduce threat to emergency teams on the ground.

Both our Charlies are capable of “situational awareness” realtime 3D holographic visualizations for group viewing and “shared reality” for cooperative piloting.