As unprecedented wildfires burn around the globe, discover innovations that mitigate fire risk
Wildfires have long been a persistent threat in certain parts of the world. But until recently, most people would associate them with regions such as California and Australia. In 2022, however, the news cycle has been filled with stories of wildfires in parts of the world that are less used to dealing with them. In the EU, forest fires have burned a record 700,000 hectares, with Spain, Romania, France, and Italy the countries most affected. In fact, 2022 is already a record year for wildfires in Southwestern Europe. Meanwhile, in China, emergency responders are battling blazes around the city of Chongqing.
Studies are linking increasing levels of fire risk in Europe with climate change. And ‘traditional’ fire regions are also facing more intense fire seasons. The worst recorded fire season in the recorded history of New South Wales, Australia, was in 2019/2020, and California’s worst fire season was also in 2020.
With climate change exacerbating wildfires across the globe, innovators are developing solutions to mitigate their impact. Here are five of the best.
ROBOT FOREST RANGERS PLANT TREES, CLEAR PATHS AND GATHER DATA
Rikko, Chunk, and Dixon are three ‘Forest Ranger Druids’ created by industrial design student Segev Kaspi. Currently in the concept stage, each of the robots has a specific set of tasks and skills. The idea is to deploy teams of the robot forest rangers across many kilometres of forest, for regular maintenance as well as in emergency situations. Finding the source of a new forest fire, for example, could help firefighters act faster to contain a dangerous situation. Read more
THE WORLD’S LARGEST REAL-TIME MONITORING NETWORK FOR ENVIRONMENTAL DISASTERS
Australian technology firm Attentis has developed a network of intelligent sensors that provide local officials and emergency response teams with data that can be used to improve responses to climate change impacts – such as floods and bushfires. The sensors are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning from analytics company SAS, and are capable of automatically detecting and responding to changes in their surroundings. Attentis has used the sensors to create an integrated, high-speed network. Named the Latrobe Valley Information Network (LVIN), it is the world’s largest real-time environmental monitoring network. Read more
NEW DRILLING MACHINE QUICKLY AND ECONOMICALLY CUTS THROUGH THE HARDEST ROCKS IN THE WORLD
San Francisco-based company Petra has successfully completed a 20-foot demonstration tunnel through the Earth’s hardest rock. The company’s semi-autonomous drilling machine, named Swifty, is able to cut through hard bedrock that would destroy normal drilling equipment. Swifty was designed to make underground utility lines more economically viable given that above-ground power lines have contributed to a succession of Californian wildfires. Read more
AI MAPPING TOOL HELPS CALIFORNIA FIREFIGHTERS TRACK BURN RISK
More than three million acres of land burned in California during the 2020 fire season. As climate change continues to have an impact on the natural ebb and flow of the area’s fires, The California Forest Observatory is using AI satellite imaging combined with detailed laser scanning to monitor the current risk of forest wildfires. Previously, most satellite data was up to three years old. The combined data provides detail down to the level of individual trees and allows firefighting teams to observe vegetation growth while tracking current weather conditions. Read more
HYBRID DRONE FOR CARRYING FIRE-FIGHTING EQUIPMENT
Fighting wildfires usually involves the use of heavy equipment and dangerous flights. Drones could be the answer Most electric drones currently in use can only fly for around fifteen minutes when carrying payloads, while gas-powered drones can fly for longer, but can’t carry heavy cargo. Parallel Flight Technologies is hoping to change this by developing commercial drones capable of carrying equipment heavy enough to help firefighters. Read more
Curated by: Matthew Hempstead
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24th August 2022