Drones to help tackle wildfire in Canada

They will be used to investigate the cause of the fire in a process called "fire-mapping"

Drones to help tackle wildfire in Canada

Image: Don McCullough via Wikimedia Commons, CC 2.0

As a massive wildfires rages in Canada, the Albertan government are deploying the use of drones to investigate the cause of the fire.

They are calling on the services of Canadian company Elevated Robotic Services, who also use drones to inspect infrastructure, carry out underwater inspections, and also aid search and rescue operations.

According to Reuters, the drones will use infrared, ultraviolet and traditional cameras "to pinpoint the hottest part of the fire and trace it to its source based on time, wind and other factors".

They shoot about 800 images which are then stitched together in a process called "fire-mapping". Traditionally fire-mapping is carried out by helicopters.

Speaking to Reuters Ron Windmueller owner of Droneology, the company that supplies equipment and other services to Elevated, explained how drones can speed up the investigation process.

Downward wind from helicopter blades can disturb the scenes, meaning pilots must stay about 1,000ft in the air. A drone can capture images from 100ft.

The negative side to using drones comes from their battery life. They last approximately 45 minutes, so they will have to land regularly to power up.

Despite this, Matthews still believes flying technology will help the fight to control the blaze allowing investigators to "determine a cause much faster."

Up to 88,000 people have so far been displaced as a result of the fire with at least 1600 homes destroyed.