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Scientists have designed a system to monitor forest fires using video images

23.05.2008
Scientists from the Universidad de Sevilla (US) [University of Seville] and the Universidad Pablo de Olavide (UPO) [University of Pablo de Olavide] have designed a “Vision Computing System” to monitor forest fires.

This would enable the position of flame front and their maximum height to be estimated, in real time, using video images. This system could be very helpful in studying the development of fires and introducing improvements in fire-extinguishing techniques, according to its inventors.

Luis Merino who is one of the authors of the study, and a Professor at the Escuela Politécnica Superior de la UPO de Sevilla [Polytechnic School of Pabloc Olavide, Seville] explains to SINC that two types of images are used in this technique. Visual images that are recorded using a conventional video camera and infrared images that are recorded with special cameras for this type of spectrum, “furthermore they are taken from different viewpoints in order to increase error robustness”. The visual information collected is digitised and processed on a computer.

This IT tool enables data obtained with the cameras to be compared with data contained in the system in a way that enables the software to take measurements of the size of the flame front, its height, angle of incline and to generate a 3D model of the fire.

Merino does point out that although various research groups analysing flame propagation models in the field are using this system already, “the fire-fighters can also use it to obtain precise, real time information about fire patterns, a very important matter in relation to the safety of the reserve fire-fighting teams”. In recent years several of these professional fire-fighters lost their lives while extinguishing the fires; there were eleven people who perished in the fire of Guadalajara in 2005.

The technique developed by the engineers requires moving the cameras and the portable computers to the site of the fire, and this is not always easy. For this reason the researchers are working currently to be able to apply this system in air vehicles, both in crewed helicopters and autonomous air robots. In fact, this methodology has been tested on-line and in real time in controlled forest fire experiments performed in Portugal, in collaboration with the Asociación para el Desarrollo de la Aerodinámica Industrial (ADAI) [Association for the Development of Industrial Aerodynamics from the Universidad de Coimbra (University of Coimbra].

At the present time Andalucian researchers are trying to incorporate the system into robotised helicopters and other uncrewed aerial vehicles, within the framework of the AWARE project (http://www.aware-project.net/), in which various European research groups are participating.

The Grupo de Robótica, Visión y Control [Robotics, Vision and Control Group] from the Universidad de Sevilla (University of Seville] is co-ordinating these studies, headed by the Professor of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering, Aníbal Ollero. At a national level these scientists have become involved in the AEROSENS project as well, which is financed by the Ministry of Education and Science, and committed to the fight against natural disasters using sensor networks and aerial robots.

SINC Team | alfa
Further information:
http://www.plataformasinc.es

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