Drones were identified in the bushfire royal commission and the NSW bushfire and flood inquiries as providing the potential for much greater use in the future to help identify and prepare for hazards.
Dario Valenza, founder of Carbonix, says thermal cameras on the drones could quickly verify fires started by lightning in remote regions, helping to direct fire crews to the scene “with only a few per cent of the fuel” used by conventional aircraft that might have their operations curtailed by weather.
Robert Mahony from the ANU-Optus Bushfire Research Centre of Excellence, who is working with Carbonix says studies show that the majority of damage from bushfires occurs from blazes that are ignited deep in remote bushland, usually by lightning strikes.
“You don’t know that they’ve happened, you can’t get to them quickly, and they grow very large,” Mahony says. “And by the time they actually cross into inhabited areas where you can get fire services to them easily, they’ve grown too large to control and in catastrophic conditions.”