- CAL FIRE has contracted Dryad for its solar power based ultra-early wildfire detection technology
- Dryad will supply 400 such units to be installed in Jackson Demonstration State Forest
- In-built artificial intelligence model ensures it can reliably detect a fire within minutes and send out the message wirelessly thus saving time in putting it out
A German start-up, backed by the European Regional Development Fund, Dryad Networks will supply its solar based ultra-early wildfire detection technology to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) for a pilot project aimed at detecting wildfires much earlier and faster.
Dryad will provide CAL FIRE with 400 of its sensors to be installed in Jackson Demonstration State Forest. These will issue an alert in case of a wildfire detection bringing down the detection time ‘from several hours to a matter of minutes’.
Time saved can be utilized by sending out firefighters to put out the fire before it gets too late to extinguish the blaze.
The Dryad’s battery-free product uses 6x6cm solar panels, weighs 136g, and is made of weather- and UV-proof plastic material and comes with supercapacitors to function as energy storage. These are mounted on a tree at a 3m height.
According to the German company, it can detect hydrogen, carbon monoxide and other gases at ppm level and has artificial intelligence built-in to reliably detect a fire and avoid false positives. It can send out data wirelessly and can run maintenance-free for up to 15 years.
Not only can sensor technology detect wildfires much faster, but it can also provide their precise location and utilize trained ‘AI’ noses to distinguish between the different fuels that ignite them, it adds.
“The market is in desperate need of rapidly deployable, low-cost, low-power wireless sensors that can detect wildfires in minutes. To meet this need, we’re investing in scaling up the production of our sensors so that we’re ready to fulfil orders,” said Dryad CEO and Co-Founder Carsten Brinkschulte.
Dryad is ramping up its wireless sensors manufacturing to be able to produce 230,000 units by the end of 2023 after having sold 10,000 units in 2022. By 2030, the start-up targets to deploy 120 million sensors around the world claiming it would help save close to 3.9m hectares of forest and prevent 1.7bn tons of carbon emissions.
Over the last few years, California has been in the news for its infamous wildfires which get worse in intensity and frequency due to the state’s dry climate. According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the severity of these wildfires is seen to have been going up of late as it battles impacts of climate change.
Through the Dryad pilot, CAL FIRE hopes to be better prepared for any such eventuality. Dryad said it is also supplying its solar-powered technology to the City of Eberswalde in Germany and elsewhere to municipalities, private forest owners and utility companies in America, Europe, Canada and Asia.