Cohen believes that implementation of this technology may help save lives. “We utilize the visual information gathered by having a UAV take video of the fire and fuse that with topological information from Google Earth and weather updates from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop a situational awareness ‘picture’ of the fire and how it will develop over time,” he explains. “This detailed prediction capability, which includes worst case scenarios, is lacking today and as a result incident commanders do not always make sound decisions in complex large disaster situations.”
According to Cohen, to be able to share this technology via a NASA webcast is not only exciting but invaluable. “This is not something that happens very often to our UC undergraduates and I am most pleased that our talented and deserving students are getting this level of national exposure.”
Thursday’s 20 minute presentation will include a six minute documentary filmed by the Discovery Channel on SIERRA, a model of the UAV which flew in two flight demonstrations held in West Virginia, and a mini-SIERRA platform, designed by UC aerospace students. “It is important to recognize all [of the team members’] contributions as well as that of the NASA/Ohio Space Grant Consortium which have supported our program financially and by offering scholarships to students working on SIERRA,” said Cohen.