The University of Montana Autonomous Aerial Systems Office has partnered with several Montana UAV businesses to leverage UAV technology to tackle Montana wildfires. We’re proud to be one of those partners. This project is being called DroneFire. So what’s in store for DroneFire? Have a look below at the current Project Plan or click here to visit the University of Montana DroneFire page.

DroneFire – Project Plan

Objective #1:

Develop project management organization and workplan, prepare communications plans encompassing economic impacts, progress, and deliverables; develop strategy for end-of-grant transition to UM AASO

Objective #2:

Establish contracts and coordinate flight operations with Montana’s UAS companies and FAA for fly-in/field campaign at Lubrecht Experimental Forest. Overall Purpose: Leverage and grow UM’s research enterprise through private sector partnering.

Objective #3:

Establish field laboratory for UAS research and development, where UAS can be deployed consistently to measure and monitor forest fuels. Overall Purpose: Grow emerging UAS field in MT by providing permanent R&D facility and demonstrating new instruments and technology.

Objective #4:

Develop a science cadre to test applications and conduct research; build infrastructure for data management; produce and test field-usable data products. Overall Purpose: Leverage MUS research enterprise targeted at private sector; build future,customer base.

Objective #5:

Procure and test two research UAS complementary to private sector systems. Overall Purpose: leverage overall enterprise in both public and private sectors.

Objective #6:

UAS UM course development, training, and certification. Overall Purpose: Develop more capable workforce; grow emerging field of UAS applications.

Current Highlights

  • Comprehensive Administrative and Science Teams have been organized.
  • We have added ten science team members in forest inventory and health, wildland fire, hydrology, and meteorology.
  • We are engaged in active negotiations/discussions with five Montana UAS companies.
  • We have partnered with a Missoula company (Skyyfish) on platform/sensor integration and flight control.
  • A Washington state based UAS company has opened a satellite office in Hamilton, MT as a direct result of negotiations with our project.
  • We are working with peer institutions North Carolina State and North Dakota State Universities, including site visits and data exchanges.
  • Training has been completed for one FAA Pilot; two additional pilots are being trained.
  • Two small training drones have been acquired and test flown; an array of remote sensing instruments are being examined that support the Science Team and that will exploit services from the private sector.
  • We have requested and received eight tail numbers from the FAA for UM aircraft; a COA application for the Lubrecht Experimental Forest has been submitted to the FAA.
  • We hosted a drone fly in at UM in March 2016, attended by 120 people.
  • A new UM class “Mapping/GIS Applications of UAS” is being offered.
  • We have hired two PhD and one MS student to work on fire and forest measurements.
University of Montana – Drone fire management