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InsightFD forest fire detection in Nevado de Toluca, Mexico

Robotics Galu brought to Mexico devices that detect conflagrations as small as 2m2 in size.
Dr Fernando Aranda
Figure 1: Dr Fernando Aranda, Director of Robotics Galu, explained how the InsightFD wildfire detection robots work.

In the face of the rising wave of forest fires, Robotics Galu installed a device, which can detect forest fire as small as 2-meter-square, in the Nevado de Toluca. This capability can quell the forest fire before it spreads.

The equipment is a robot with the appearance of a surveillance camera. There are two sensors in the robot, one is an Electric-Optical sensor and one is an Infra-Red sensor, they can detect fire as far as 10 to 15 kilometers to discover the start of a forest fire and alert the firefighters immediately. The same robots were deployed in Guadalajara in early 2018.

InsightFD robots in Guadalajara
Figure 2: One of the InsightFD robots in Guadalajara

Dr. Fernando Aranda, Director of Robotics Galu, explained to El Sol de México that this technology can detect heat sources in a forest and immediately provide exact location coordinates and weather conditions such as wind speed and humidity. All this information is essential to combat bodies, as it empowers them to extinguish forest fires more efficiently.

“We can guarantee the detection of fire sources from 0 to 15 kilometers. Once the hotspots are detected, all the information is sent to the monitoring centers, including meteorological data, which are very important, because a forest fire in a windless condition is not the same as when there is a wind that can spread the fire rapidly!” Dr. Aranda commented.

The robot, Dr. Aranda explained, operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It can be connected to the electric grid, or it is equipped with solar power panels to supply its energy. The idea is to never turn off the devices and monitor the area continuously around the clock. Dr. Aranda said that each wildfire detection project is deployed according to the needs of the customer, which can be a public or private organization.

“We analyze the area you want to protect and, depending on the terrain, we install the robots in the best locations so that they can cover as much space as possible. We will evaluate if there are hills and valleys, the weather condition is hazy or dry, any smoke or light pollution, to determine everything the robot requires to operate uninterruptedly” he said.

InsightFD robot 4100m above sea-level
Figure 3: An InsightFD robot, 4100m above sea-level, installed in the Nevado de Toluca

Dr. Aranda stressed that it is a preventive solution, which seeks to save millions that would be spent on the use of resources to put off fires when they spread.

“It is cheaper to invest in prevention because when a forest fire goes out of control you require many resources to control it, it is not the same as detecting it when it is two square-meter large and can be extinguished immediately with a few resources!” he said.

Figure 4: The Nevado de Toluca is a stratovolcano in central Mexico, its height is 4680m and is the fourth highest of Mexico's peaks. The volcano and the area around it are now a national park.

The detection performances of the robots that are tested in the Nevado de Toluca and in production deployment in the La Primavera forest in Jalisco, will become the references for the company to provide this technology to federal authorities such as the National Forestry Commission (CONAFOR).

According to Dr. Aranda, the 1,229 million pesos that were cut to CONAFOR’s budget this year would be enough to install these robots to monitor up to 80 percent of the forested area of ​​Valle de México, and detect forest fires early, avoiding future environmental crises such as those that occurred in last May!


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