Dstl drone hackathon targets global wildfire problem

The UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is hosting a hackathon that will challenge industry and academia to develop drone solutions for tackling wildfires.

(Credit: Pixabay)

Scenarios for the 2019 Fire Hack will be run in parallel with the US via a continuous video link with the Wright Brothers Institute (WBI) in Dayton, Ohio which is hosting a US arm of the event. The hackathon aims to find new ways of using drones for global search and rescue in defence and the public sector. Teams, including those from universities, will use a range of collaboration platforms to explore different fire scenarios with an increasing level of complexity, working with experts from the Fire Service, Dstl and the wider Ministry of Defence.

“The speed and ferocity of the devastating wildfires in California demonstrated the need to develop new ways of using science and technology to assist the emergency services wherever possible,” said Tim Wright, Dstl’s Aerospace Systems Group Leader. “Small unmanned air systems or ‘drones’ - in the right hands - could offer a way of reducing the burden on the emergency services by mapping and tracking a wildfire in real time, autonomously, so efforts can be focussed rapidly where they’re needed to save more lives.

“We are reaching out to industry, academia, tech start-ups, coders, anyone with new ideas and an interest in drones, artificial intelligence or autonomy to help us find and develop new concepts of controlling drones in the most efficient and effective ways to give as much assistance to the emergency services as possible. This event will be a fantastic opportunity to spend a weekend with some of the best minds in the business from the UK and US, collaborating simultaneously with the Wright Brothers Institute’s hackathon.”

The UK and US hackathons take place simultaneously from 29 to 31 March 2019 with the UK event taking place at the ‘Spark’ Facility at Southampton Solent University. The winning UK team will present its ideas and proposal for further exploitation at the British Embassy in Washington DC. The winning teams from both the US and UK hackathons will also be recognised at the AUVSI XPONENTIAL 2019 unmanned and autonomous systems trade show. Additional information on the UK event can be found here.