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Drone swarms as firefighting system

by Fabio Affortunato
Reading time / Tempo lettura : 3 minutes / minuti

The use of drone swarms is known above all as a nocturnal choreographic element to crown and conclude events or on the occasion of holidays such as Christmas or New Year.

A very indicative example is the swarms of drones used in Scotland instead of fireworks, to greet 2021:

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Link toYouTube channel of Underbelly, video editor.

The event was part of the Edinburgh 2020 Hogmanay festival and produced by Underbelly. The peculiarity of the show organized through a swarm of drones consisted in the fact that the choreography was carried out using 150 drones launched simultaneously and piloted by a program based on artificial intelligence.

Although at a first impression one might think the business opportunities related to shows with drone swarms are only related to this type of event, in reality the use of drones in swarms represents one of the most interesting and innovative fields. Among these are the use of drones in a fire-fighting swarm.

Drone swarms a way to approch fire

The swarms of drones for fighting fires could be the key to fighting fires, as emerges from a work done by the engineer and mathematician Elena Ausonio and a team of Italian researchers, taken as an inspiration for this post.

Fires are events of frightening destructive capacity that affect both the urbanized and rural areas. Prevention systems have never given the desired results and the field operations necessary to fight fires often suffer from a lack of resources (suitable means, men).

Everyone is well aware that for certain situations, the view from above can provide information of fundamental importance. The use of drones as a fire mapping tool can undoubtedly provide a useful contribution, allowing those with the skills to define the most suitable strategy in relation to the variation of certain conditions such as direction and strength. of the wind. But this is already established.

However, a new concept was highlighted by the study conducted by Eng. Ausonio of the University of Genoa, together with Patrizia Bagnerini and Marco Ghio; that of the use of drone swarms as a tool to fight forest fires.

Drone swarms – The operational model of the University of Genoa study

Researchers from the University of Genoa hypothesized a system of drone swarms with payloads between 5 and 50 kg capable of operating as a single system, acting according to a grid network.

As stated by Eng. Ausonio, drone swarms would undoubtedly be easier to manage, as a system of immediate deployment and without limitations of only daytime flight. Furthermore, the risks for the pilots would be absent in these they would operate remotely.

Certainly considerable advantages which however require a series of investments and appropriate logistics.

Swarms of firefighting drones – The difficulties to overcome

The study of Eng. Ausonio and his colleagues, must undoubtedly be considered as an idea to be developed and implemented.

Certainly there are difficulties that need to be overcome such as:

  • investments for drones and pilot training,
  • punctual and effective logistic study on the national territory, of drone swarm platforms, on the basis of certain and profitable intervention times (otherwise we fall back into the current situation),
  • consolidated operating procedures (which include operating scenarios, methods of loading water and extinguishing liquids, replacing batteries, etc.).

It is evident that the possibility of implementing a good idea, such as the one identified by the researchers of Genoa, can be boycotted with false difficulties dictated more by the inertia, bureaucracy and inability of those who manage public affairs (and public money!), it’s a lot. However, even with this simple post we hope to contribute in some way to the success of this idea, considering that firefightersdaily and silent heroes” to whom the whole society owes a lot, an organized system of swarms of drones could be very useful.

Swarms of Drones – The Opportunities

Alongside the use of drone swarms, discussed in the post, I would finally like to highlight some opportunities for developing skills related to the use of drones in swarms for:

  • search and rescue,
  • detailed mapping of areas,
  • exploration of environments to be secured,
  • large-scale precision agriculture,
  • environmental scientific research,
  • swarm intelligence,
  • pollution monitoring in certain areas, etc.

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Credits about images and original article: The featured image is taken from pixabay.com, free for commercial use without request for attribution, whose author is Ylvers. The video in the article was made by Underbelly who is the rightful owner. The reference for the post article is taken from “Drone Swarms for Firefighting: the Future of Fire Supression?” by Miriam McNabb published in dronelife (taken from a guest post by Max Lenz, Executive Editor and project manager at the Berlin-based DroneMasters Boost GmbH and editor of the weekly DroneMasters Briefing). The use of the images within the article is for the purpose of a better understanding of the contents of the same.

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Last Updated on/Ultimo aggiornamento – 30/04/2021

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