USDA Forest Service

Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team


Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team
Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory

400 N 34th Street, Suite 201
Seattle, WA 98103

(206) 732-7800

Logo of the Pacific Northwest Research Station

United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

USDA Link Forest Service Link


Wildland-Urban Interface Fire Dynamics Simulator

UAV Field Tests near Wimberly, Texas (June 4-7, 2012)

Testing UAV in the field, wth launch truck, trailer, and test patterns


Launching the UAV Online streaming | Download [111 MB]

Landing the UAV Online streaming | Download [55 MB]


Alex Maranghides and the unmanned aerival vehicle (UAV) Preparing to launch unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

Researcher Alex Marangides with Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

This is an example of one of 5 unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as drones, assigned to conduct research in wildland fire situations where a regular planes cannot operate. The planes are equipped with visible and infrared cameras, and can measure air temperature, windspeed, and relative humidity.

UAV Launching Platform

The UAV platform can be mounted on any suitable truck. Plane flight is normally controlled by autopilot, but Gene Robinson of RP Search Services serves as a backup pilot and is required to keep it in sight at all times.* He can take over control of the plane if necessary.

Preparing for flight Monitoring flight data recording from the trailer

Taking a Break Between Flights

The UAV is gasoline-powered, and can loiter (stay in the air) for over 4 hours.

Ruddy Mell Monitors Data Collection in Real-Time

Ruddy Mell (right), FERA's principal investigator on the WFDS project, is watching streaming images from the visible or infrared camera on the UAV. Mike Henning (left), of San Diego State University, is controlling the plane's systems (authopilot).

Monitoring flight data from the trailer  

Mike Henning Running UAV Autopilot

This half of the trailer contains the control room for the planes, while the other half stores the planes, generator, and tools.

*Under current FAA regulations, the UAV can only operate in airspace unobscured by smoke. In a fire setting where the smoke plume is moving in one direction, the UAV will have to remain upwind of the plume. Future FAA license requirements may change this in restricted airspace, such as over military bases.

U.S. Forest Service - PNW- FERA
Last Modified: Monday, 16 December 2013 at 14:18:38 CST

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