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NASA Langley, FWS to Use Small UAS Fire Detectors at Great Dismal Swamp

droneNASA has partnered with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to test the capability of small unmanned aerial systems to detect brush or forest fires at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

Langley Research Center will head the study in support of the UAS Integration in the National Airspace System project of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, the agency said Tuesday.

“[FWS] hopes to see a significant decrease in cost to survey the Great Dismal Swamp, as well as a reduction in time to detect nascent fires, which could potentially save millions of dollars to the taxpayer in firefighting costs,” said Chris Lowie, manager of the NWR on the border of Virginia and North Carolina.

He noted that surveillance operations will focus on “areas of interest” after a thunderstorm occurs.

Mike Logan, head of the Small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Laboratory at Langley, said the team will use a small UAS fitted with a camera to provide a visual of rising smoke plumes, another camera that uses infrared to detect hot spots and transmitters to send live video to a mobile ground station.

The drone can fly up to an hour before recharging and has a range of eight miles, Logan said.

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