Use of remotely piloted aircraft systems for forestry operations and research

Small remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), are expected to provide important contributions to wildland fire operations and research. Actual research on their use and performance, however, has been limited so far.

Led by the US Forest Service, researchers deployed RPAS in support of the wider 2012 Prescribed Fire Combustion and Atmospheric Dynamics Research (RxCADRE) project campaign.

Deployments of RPAS ranged both in time aloft and in size, from the Aeryon Scout quadcopter to the fixed-wing G2R and ScanEagle UAS. Real-time video feeds to incident command staff supported prescribed fire operations and a concept of operations (a planning exercise) was implemented and evaluated for fires in large and small burn blocks.

The RxCADRE 2012 campaign successfully demonstrated the use of RPAS as an operations support tool. The RPAS flew over 50 sorties and provided real-time situational awareness to incident staff without major mishap. 

Click here for source (US Forest Service)

Photo: US Forest Service