A drone from the Unmanned Systems Research Laboratory (USRL) of The Cyprus Institute was recently instrumental in spotting and preventing a malicious fire attempt in a rural area in Orounda.
Navigated by a drone operator from The Cyprus Institute, the drone was carrying out an observation flight to identify potential fires and fire hazards, in cooperation with the Department of Forests. The drone approached a suspicious spot, at which point the perpetrator was forced to extinguish the fire, before it spread. At the same time, the drone operator informed the Police and pointed the spot to members of the local Police Station in Peristerona, which undertook further investigation of the case.
The recent success of CyI drones in fire prevention, detection and management brought considerable media publicity and recognition for the important work conducted by the USRL team.
Not only did the incident make headlines in all printed and online media, it was also featured as one of the top stories in the news segments on all local TV stations.
“A historically significant development for the huge problem of fires in Cyprus” is how the editorial in Alithia newspaper described the use of drones. Continuing its praise, the editorial stated that, “At this point we must commend not only the cooperation of The Cyprus Institute with the Department of Forests, but the Cyprus Institute itself. Because it can be an institution of enormous value if it is properly supported, promoted and utilized. This institution has huge prospects and in the hands of its current administration, can work wonders if supported by the state and the scientific community. Let's give it the importance it is due, because it deserves it”.
The director of the Department of Forests, Charalambos Alexandrou, stated that "it is a historical event to be able to locate a perpetrator using technology." He added that it’s indeed the first time a perpetrator was identified using technology, stressing that this is where the authorities' efforts will be focused in the future. The director of the Department of Forests further praised the cooperation with Τhe Cyprus Institute, pointing out that technological support is necessary. He added that drones could act as deterrents, as arsonists would know there was surveillance.
The observational flight was conducted as part of the Memorandum of Cooperation between the Department of Forests and The Cyprus Institute, and concerns the continuous development of technology of unmanned aerial systems - known as drones, in order to prevent, detect and manage fires.
USRL, which is part of the Center of Excellence for Climate and Atmospheric Research in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East (CARE-C) of The Cyprus Institute, has unique know-how in the construction and development of drones of varying dimensions and with multiple capabilities.
The drones manufactured at CyI for environmental monitoring purposes, in close and productive collaboration with the Department of Forests, are flexible and economical, with automatic take-off and landing capabilities, and equipped with video and thermal cameras. They are ideal for the purpose of continuous surveillance and fire protection of inaccessible areas.
In particular, the system that serves the needs of the Department of Forests was developed in its entirety at CyI, and consists of a unique combination of a fixed-wing unmanned aircraft for aerial observation purposes, and a super-flexible and fast quadcopter for on-site, immediate response. Both systems are fully compatible with ground-based ground control and autopilot software, designed and developed by the USRL software development team, and optimized for emergency monitoring and response applications.
It is worth noting that, in the near future, CyI drones are expected to be used by the Cyprus Police, in close cooperation with the Department of Antiquities, to locate smugglers of antiquities and gravediggers, which will help protect our cultural heritage.
CyI drones are superior to commercially available systems, as their entire mechanical, electronic and software systems are developed in-house, enabling the optimal adaptation of drones for the specific purpose of use. Another important advantage is their extremely competitive cost.The Cyprus Institute is already in contact with leading institutions in Greece and other countries for the acquisition and use of these drones.