Select Page

Aerial Drone for Wildfire Detection


Across the globe, wildfires are becoming an ever-increasing risk to life and property. Recent technological advancements, namely small UAV’s, can provide for an increased situational awareness of wildfire risks that in turn will improve incident commander tactics, yielding not only reduced risk of blazes but also increased safety of crews on the ground.

Drones used in fighting fires is not a novel idea, states across the Western US have multiple $1 mil+ systems. However, the ancillary equipment required for operation limits their deployments to only the most severe blazes. Using stakeholder research, the team identified a niche regarding small precincts and their access to UAV systems. The project approach focused heavily on developing a system which was: 1) easy to operate, 2) affordable for even the smallest districts, and 3) designed with the feedback of actual end users.

The final prototype delivered by the team is a 4-rotor drone, equipped with gimbal mounted visual and thermal cameras, easy-to-use flight controls, and a final cost less than $1,500.

Team Members

  • Josh Watson
  • Natalie Brooker
  • Tucker Vana
  • Joshua Callaghan

The Client

  • Dr. Kevin Moore
  • Colorado School of Mines Humanitarian Engineering


Project Advisor: Dr. Yosef Allam

Technical Advisor: Dr. John Spear and Dr. Ray Zhang

Donations Made by: Dr. Kevin Moore and Colorado School of Mines Humanitarian Engineering