Fire Department Unmanned Aircraft System, (UAS) Drone Isolated Above a Forest Fire.

Fire Shield is a new project working to integrate satellites, sensors and drones to detect fires within a few minutes and extinguish them within 60 minutes – before they get out of control.

Fire Shield is supported by an $A70 million grant from the Minderoo Foundation and is working with agencies across Australia to improve the identification and triage of ignition points.

The system will use satellites, sensors and deep learning software to automate detection of fires – currently 95 per cent of fires are reported via 000 or alerts from manned fire towers. International research suggests automated systems can detect fire ignition in 3 minutes.

“We want to push the boundaries of science and technology,” said Adrian Turner, chief executive of the foundation’s Fire and Flood Resilience plan, and a former head of CSIRO’s Data61 division. “We think we can make strong progress.”

Bushfires pose a significant threat for many security and risk managers and the Fire Shield project suggests significant scope for partnering with government and commercial organisations whose existing facilities may be fitted with sensors, including thermal cameras, and which could provide bases for fire fighting drones.