JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) – A global defense company shared details with FOX31 about the use of cutting-edge technology used in battlegrounds around the world to help fight wildfires.
“Recognizing patterns, learning from experience, drawing conclusions, making predictions, or taking action,” said Dan Lordan, senior manager for AI integration at Lockheed Martin Artificial Intelligence Center.
All those words describe artificial intelligence. Lockheed Martin, whose space division is based out of Jefferson County, wants to use AI to help gather critical details during a wildland fire.
Lordan says it starts with mapping out a wildfire. It can take hours to determine the size, shape, location, and areas emitting the most heat.
“With AI, the promise is we can cut that down to minutes,” said Lordan.
Lockheed has teamed up with tech company NVIDIA to help create maps and models. Together they use variables like wind, humidity, vegetation, and topography to not only determine what the fire is doing but also what it will do next.
Currently, Lordan said predicting a fire’s rate of spread and direction can take up to a day.
“The promise is you can break that down to hours,” said Lordan.
This means the ability to give command teams critical information and recommendations will decrease response time and make better decisions about fire suppression. This can range from digging trenches to performing back burns and using aerial suppression activity.
The same time reducing promises will apply to updating data and maps on the areas most prone to fires down to days instead of years.
The application of this technology to wildfires is already taking place.
“Currently, we are flight testing prototype software with the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control,” said Lordan. “We are very excited about the progress we are making there.”
Lockheed is also working to build a wildfire research lab where private and government groups can work to collaborate on bringing new technologies to help prevent and fight wildfires.