Watch an autonomous helicopter demo wildfire response abilities


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Sikorsky’s Optionally Piloted Black Hawk helicopter equipped with MATRIX and Rain autonomy systems during fire localization and targeting demonstrations at Sikorsky HQ in Stratford, Connecticut.

Sikorsky’s Optionally Piloted Black Hawk helicopter geared up with MATRIX and Rain autonomy techniques throughout fireplace localization and concentrating on demos at Sikorsky HQ in Stratford, Connecticut. | Supply: Rain

Rain, a developer of aerial wildfire containment expertise, and Sikorsky, a Lockheed Martin firm specializing in superior rotorcraft, are researching struggle wildfires autonomously. The businesses accomplished take a look at flights in late 2023 utilizing an autonomous helicopter that carries and dumps water onto wild fires within the very early phases.

The flight demonstration occurred at Sikorsky’s headquarters in Stratford, Conn. The Optionally Piloted Black Hawk helicopter flew in autonomous mode with Sikorsky security pilots on board.

“In 2023, in collaboration with Sikorsky, we got down to show that we may obtain an alert a couple of doable wildfire; ship instructions to launch and fly an autonomous helicopter able to shifting a considerable amount of suppressant to a hearth’s location; then command the helicopter to precisely drop water onto the fireplace,” mentioned Rain CEO Maxwell Brodie. “We’re very happy with the outcomes that efficiently display autonomous early detection and fast response.”

Accelerating aerial response to wildfires


Rain and Sikorsky say the capabilities they’ve demonstrated can allow an accelerated aerial response to wildfires. These capabilities embody: 

Integrating wildfire early detection cameras, powered by Alchera X’s FireScout AI, with automated plane dispatch and routing powered by rain
An optionally piloted Black Hawk helicopter with Sikorsky’s MATRIX flight autonomy system was built-in with Rain’s wildfire mission autonomy system
Rian’s wildfire mission autonomy system processed imagery from an ob-board high-resolution thermal digicam to localize, goal, and suppress the fireplace, directing each the plane’s flight path and water launch timing

“By combining Sikorsky’s Matrix plane autonomy system with Rain’s wildfire mission autonomy functionality, we’ve proven the potential to place out a wildfire in its preliminary stage earlier than it turns into an enormous drawback,” mentioned Igor Cherepinsky, director of Sikorsky Improvements.

Rain says the absolutely built-in system carried out end-to-end autonomous wildfire response. This consists of early detection, dispatch, route planning, preflight, takeoff, flight, Bambi bucket operations, concentrating on, suppression, and touchdown.

Transferring ahead, Rain says it’s going to proceed to develop its engagement with fireplace businesses to combine autonomous techniques into operations and improve security for responders and the group. The corporate says it’s trying ahead to advancing capabilities for autonomous firefighting in collaboration with Sikorsky.

“In the end, Rain envisions equipping fireplace businesses with the aptitude to strategically place a future fleet of firefighting helicopters able to receiving and finishing up mission instructions to autonomously suppress a wildfire in its earliest stage,” Brodie mentioned.


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