Here’s something straight out of science fiction: drones detecting wildfires, and fire chiefs using mixed-reality headsets to coordinate the battle against said wildfire.
Boeing has built a system to do exactly this; developed by the Insitu division at Boeing, the system can coordinate and control multiple unmanned ariel vehicles and can help keep track of manned vehicles such as airplanes and other ground vehicles.
The Insitu division used to be a separate company – specializing in the manufacturing of UAV’s; Boeing acquired Insitu back in 2008.
Insitu is calling this wizardry ‘INEXA Control’ and describes the system as ‘playing a real-time strategy game’; specifically for the purpose of forest fires, the fire chief simply has to point at the map, and the drones would automatically figure out an orbit or path to cover that area.
With the specialized infrared cameras, the drones can detect fires that humans would likely ignore, and display the information on the map.
The map, of course, is displayed using Microsoft’s HoloLens; the HoloLens helps create a 3D space where a team of coordinators can work together to contain the wildfire.
Boeing’s video focuses on containing wildfires – the system, however, can be used for much more. There are possibilities for use during disaster aid and relief, for example. It can also be used to scan and monitor critical areas for security during major public or sporting events – it’s after all, a tool for coordination between teams.
These ideas have been around in the form of science fiction for decades; now they seem to be becoming a reality.
The world is headed towards a more connected future – technology is becoming smarter and more efficient because it can talk and coordinate with the things around it.
A world where firefighters can keep us safe while being safe themselves is an ideal one. It’s still quite far – drones won’t be spraying the water on this hypothetical wildfire just yet – but it’s getting close.