UNL Drone Company Looks to Curtail Wildfires

Oct. 28, 2019, 3:03 p.m. ·

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln-based startup company hopes to prevent and fight wildfires by using drones.

Drone Amplified, started by UNL computer science and engineering professor Carrick Detweiler and other UNL alumni, has been in development for five years. However, the company has only been selling its ignition delivery system for about a year.

Detweiler said firefighters use similar technology from helicopters, but they have to fly low and slow over fires.

“Using drones, you can move those firefighters away from the most dangerous areas and to the sidelines," Detweiler said. "Instead, you can send the drones to do this dangerous and difficult task.”

Drone Amplified is on its second generation of ignition delivery systems, which drops Ping-Pong ball-sized ignition spheres and starts a controlled or prescribed burn. Detweiler said the delivery system, now being used by firefighters, works with different types of drones and is the first aerial ignition system.