AI Satellites for Wildfire Detection 

Scientists at the University of South Australia have artificial intelligence utilities to detect wildfires early.

Scientists at the University of South Australia have artificial intelligence utilities to detect wildfires early. 

Wildfires Threatening Lives 

Together with WWF-Australia, research conducted by the University of Sydney revealed that approximately 143 million mammals, 2.46 billion reptiles, 181 million birds, and 51 million frogs inhabit areas threatened by wildfires. This situation is perilous for both animals and humans, as around 60,000 people were either affected or killed. 

AI and Satellite Technology to the Rescue 

The researchers developed this new method to detect fires as an emergency measure. This innovative approach combines Artificial Intelligence utilities and satellite technology to enhance wildfire detection rates. 

The current number of satellites, located about 34,000 kilometers above Earth, can spot wildfires but suffer from delays and limitations. Therefore, it is necessary to embed AI software into CubeSats to enhance their capabilities. 

Using satellite technology makes it easier to detect wildfires, as it provides wider coverage, enabling the monitoring of vast areas frequently and allowing for regular updates in addition to hyperspectral imaging for detailed analysis. 

Artificial Intelligence utilities can process data in real-time, recognize patterns, identify signals, and improve energy efficiency. Moreover, AI can detect fire smoke from space much faster than traditional ground-based methods. 

Faster and More Efficient 

Dr. Stefan Peters, the lead geospatial scientist on the project, stated that AI-enabled CubeSats can find wildfires 500 times faster. Although the outcomes of this new development are not yet clear, it seems to have the potential to spot wildfires in less than one hour, a significant improvement compared to the current 6-8 hour timeframe. For example, during a previous wildfire incident in South Australia’s Coorong, the AI system detected smoke and relayed the data in under 14 minutes. 

Employing AI technology in disaster management not only reduces the impact of wildfires on people’s lives and animals but also decreases the carbon emissions resulting from such incidents. 

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