Nebraska-based startup Drone Amplified is using unmanned aerial technology, or drones, to start ‘prescribed burns’ – controlled fires to reduce hazardous materials and fuel in areas prone to wildfires.
The company drops ‘dragon eggs’, fireballs that ignite when they land on the ground, which “will basically burn up the dead leaves and sticks that would cause major wildfires when they dry out later in the summer,” explained Carrick Detweiler, Founder and CEO of Drone Amplified, to CNN.
Prescribed burns have been used as a wildfire prevention technique for centuries, but the process is often laborious and sometimes dangerous for firefighters. Whereas a 50-pound drone from Drone Amplified can carry some 400 of their fireballs, meaning firefighters can work at a distance away from the fire.
Additionally, firefighters can use the technology at times when other aircraft are unable, such as when it’s dark or smoky, or to access terrain that is difficult to reach.
The drones are controlled by apps that allow accurate, precise drops of the ‘dragon eggs’ for the prescribed burns, preventing fire escapes.
“Our app also allows the firefighter to put in geofences to prevent any ignitions outside of that area,” said Detweiler.
With the rising number of wildfires worldwide, having and taking preventative measures are key.