Hey UAV heads!

I've been flying RC's my whole life but I'm totally new to this sort of thing. I'm trying to find a solution to fly a UAV autonomously over a forest fire at night. The goal is to have it record IR video and send it back to a base station which records the live IR video and also the GPS coordinates, time and date, like an information overlay over the IR image. Over course it also needs to be able to fly safely at night atonomously. If price and platforms weren't a concern, is this possible?


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Sounds pretty dumb, you most likely are getting in the way of the real heroes who are actually trying to fight the fire. They have enough problems with flying about in a fire that they need more annoyances which could be dangerous and hurt real people. Let the professionals do their work in peace.


We own an aviation company that has contracts with the government to fight these fires with manned vehicles. These are natural disaster fires which are only fought during the day, when it's dark we wouldn't be getting in the way of anyone. I'm not looking for moral answers, technical facts would be great thanks. I know big companies like Aeryon have this technology, was hoping to get pointed in the right direction on researching this.

I'm sure 3DRobotics should be able to supply you with a suitable platform and help you set up the UAV to do exactly what you want.

I'll shoot them an email, thanks.

It sounds like a job, if you were to employ a UAV, for a fixed wing -- better range.

The environment would be more harsh and flight stability bumpy with all the varied hot spots, air mass movements, etc.

If your fire were nicely located over a moderately flat area, all the better. But if in a valley with rough terrain, more challenges.

There are some commercial rotary wing UAVs but of course the price is significantly more than 3DR range of products.

Risking a machine is far better than risking a human and if you can pinpoint a hotspot and apply the manpower to end it efficiently and safely, all the better.

The technology is still young but now is the time to explore it.


Yes its very possible the UA does not know its dark, systems and procedures just have to a lot tighter and if I were you I would start searching scrap yards for BMWs with intact night vision cameras for cheap.

I totally agree.

Hey thanks for the reply. As for the "night vision camera", how would you tag the required time/date/gps location to the video...is the transmitter processor able to overlay this information?


@Auk:  It will take some search time...  but the commented blog posts and other links on these pages may offer some of what you need for your application:

UAS for emergencies

Aerial mapping

Remote piloting

Sense and avoid

UAV sensing system

Best wishes for moving forward. Those fires don't just stop burning at night, do they?

The APM and PixHawk flight controllers have a telemetry output which with an extra module (minimosd) overlay this telemetry data onto a video link.

From the ground you will therefore have your live thermal images and overlaid is a personal choice of telemetry data, such as GPS coordinates only or a combination of other data relevant to you. 

Luckily I have time to research, thanks for the info! Sometimes they can burn out naturally yes, but If they all did that I wouldn't be looking into UAV solutions for them :)

This is the information I'm looking for, thanks!

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