Drones to Fight Wildfires

In the spring of this year, President Trump signed a bipartisan bill into law that encouraged federal agencies to begin employing drones to fight wildfires. The details are elaborated in Section 1114 titled “Wildfire technology modernization” of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act. In addition to being a phenomenal prospect for the use of drones in combating wildfires, but it could be a great news for the use of drones in other industries such as drone deliveries, search and rescue missions and agriculture surveys and construction.

Combating wildfires with drones

According to Section 1114 titled “Wildfire technology modernization” of the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act requires the secretary of the Department of the Interior to:

“Establish a research, development, and testing program, or expand an applicable existing program, to assess unmanned aircraft system technologies, including optionally piloted aircraft, across the full range of wildland fire management operations in order to accelerate the deployment and integration of those technologies into the operations of the Secretaries.”

The Department of the Interior (DoI) will have six months to commence the program since the signing of bill into law. The federal agencies will be able to collaborate with each other and formulate consistent protocols and strategies to use drones to combat wildfires.

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“In carrying out the program established under paragraph (2), the Secretaries, in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, State wildland firefighting agencies, and other relevant Federal agencies, shall enter into an agreement under which the Secretaries shall develop consistent protocols and plans for the use on wildland fires of unmanned aircraft system technologies, including for the development of real-time maps of the location of wildland fires.”

The law can be read in depth here. Use the keyword “unmanned” and you will be taken to the desired section.

Our Opinion

It is interesting to see a new legislation that necessitates federal agencies to come up with the appropriate use of drones. Large swathes of land can be monitored with the help of a fleet of drones and locations of wildfires can be mapped, assisting the firefighting crews to keep people safe and manage precarious situations.Moreover, the new legislation is likely to pressurize FAA even further alongwith other agencies to come up with rules required to allow drone flights beyond line of sight or at night time.

This is likely to spur on other applications of drones such as in medication, medical samples and organ deliveries by drone, packet deliveries by drones, search and rescue missions by drones, and the use of drones for agricultural, monitoring and construction.What is your opinion about the new legislation and its ramifications on the larger drone industry? Drop a comment in the comments section below.

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