DOI UAS in the News

News articles written about US Department of the Interior drone usage to support natural resources and wildland fire missions.

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Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, Drones (UAS), External News
Department of the Interior Image
6/8/2018
Cantwell presses Agriculture Department to accelerate cooperation with Interior Department on firefighting drones. Concerns mount amid projections 2018 could match last year’s costly wildfire season.
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, Drones (UAS), External News
Department of the Interior Image
6/4/2018
They’ve also been faster and safer than putting boots on the ground, a department official said. Navigating a field of hot lava makes for a fun kids game, but it’s far more terrifying in real life. On May 27, one unfortunate individual was in that exact situation, surrounded by molten rock flowing from the Mount Kilauea volcano in Hawaii. But the Interior Department and its fleet of drones swooped in.
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, Drones (UAS), External News
Department of the Interior Image
5/22/2018
While most people are familiar with the military’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles, civilian agencies are using drones to complete their missions too. The Department of the Interior’s drone fleet has been deployed to monitor dams, track wildlife and fight forest fires. Because of the success of these efforts, the Interior Department’s Office of Aviation Services is a finalist for a Samuel J. Heyman medal, awarded for excellence in government.
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, Drones (UAS), External News
Department of the Interior Image
5/16/2018
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has awarded a “Call When Needed” contract to Bridger Aerospace, Insitu, Pathways2Solutions and Precision Integrated for small UAS services. Described as a first of its kind for DOI, the contract will allow DOI to obtain “fully contractor-operated and maintained” small UAS that are ready when needed to support a variety of operations, including wildland fire operations, search and rescue, emergency management and other resource missions in the Contiguous 48 States and Alaska.
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, Drones (UAS), External News
Department of the Interior Image
5/14/2018
It’s your turn to vote! While our Sammies selection committee helps us choose seven award winners from 27 outstanding finalists, we also want to know who you think has made the most admirable contribution to the American people.
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, Drones (UAS), External News
OAS Finalist at Sammies Gala 2017
5/14/2018
The Partnership for Public Service announced 27 nominees for its annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal awards Monday, counting among them federal cybersecurity professionals, data scientists and executives innovating the use of drone technology. The “Sammies” — dubbed “the Oscars of government service” — recognize federal employees who have crafted impactful and innovative solutions to advance the mission of government. “Amid the political headlines, it’s easy to overlook our nation’s career public servants who perform the essential day-to-day work of government,” Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO, said in a statement. “That’s why the Service to America Medals are so important — they showcase the many remarkable men and women who assist their fellow Americans with passion to maintain the safety, health and prosperity of the nation.”
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, External News
Department of the Interior Image
5/8/2018
Federal employees who tracked terrorists, thwarted gangs, distributed emergency famine relief and digitized tools for veterans to collect benefits made the cut of 27 finalists for the annual SAMMIE Awards, the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service announced on Sunday night. Grouped in areas ranging from national security to management to science to law enforcement to career achievement, those who made the finalists list for what since 2010 has been called the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals will be honored at a Tuesday breakfast during Public Service Recognition Week.
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, External News
Department of the Interior Image
5/8/2018
The Partnership for Public Service announced 27 nominees for its annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal awards Monday, counting among them federal cybersecurity professionals, data scientists and executives innovating the use of drone technology. The “Sammies” — dubbed “the Oscars of government service” — recognize federal employees who have crafted impactful and innovative solutions to advance the mission of government. “Amid the political headlines, it’s easy to overlook our nation’s career public servants who perform the essential day-to-day work of government,” Max Stier, Partnership for Public Service president and CEO, said in a statement. “That’s why the Service to America Medals are so important — they showcase the many remarkable men and women who assist their fellow Americans with passion to maintain the safety, health and prosperity of the nation.”
Office of Aviation Services, Aviation, External News
Department of the Interior Image
5/8/2018
As fires raged in the Oregon’s Umpqua National Forest in August 2017, the infrared video camera on an Interior Department unmanned aerial vehicle spotted a previously undetected blaze that threatened a hydroelectric power plant, homes and a government ranger station. The smaller fire, likely set off by a windblown ember, was contained before it got out of control, averting an estimated $50 million in potential damage. This event was one of many recent success stories stemming from drones dispatched at 71 wildfires in 2017, part of the unmanned aerial vehicle program created and overseen by Mark Bathrick, director of the Interior Department’s Office of Aviation Services.
Office of Aviation Services, Drones (UAS), External News
Mark Laker Drone Flying
4/23/2018
The potential drones have to make a variety of tasks faster, cheaper or safer have been talked about for years now, but this potential is finally being quantified. Drones have been touted as enabling a potential 90% in timesavings, while the costs associated with using drone vs. a survey crew are exponentially different. These differences are real, and they’re opening up exciting new possibilities for a variety of organizations. Not everyone has been able to come up with these kinds of measurables though, and that has led to adoption challenges. It’s one thing to say a piece of a technology is going to make a given task faster, cheaper or safer, but what does that actually mean to the organization? Additionally, difficulties arise when it comes to establishing a value for something that never happened because it was prevented through the use of a drone. How can savings in time and expenses be calculated when they never occur? The difficulty of establishing these sorts of measurables is part of the reason the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) efforts around drone adoption are so notable. They created estimates that determined the early detection of the fire by drones saved $50 million in land and infrastructure value that could have otherwise been lost. While their adoption of drone technology goes beyond the bottom line, being able to calculate that number and savings is critical for numerous reasons.
Office of Aviation Services, Drones (UAS), External News
OAS Drone Pilots
4/16/2018
The U.S. Department of the Interior recently announced an addition of 50 Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) fixed wing UAVs, and these tools will round out a drone program that has become a real leader in terms of the application of this technology. Since the DOI is one of the few agencies that actually runs towards fires, floods, volcanoes and earthquakes, their UAS Program has allowed them to help officials gather critical information more quickly and act with greater clarity and agility. This increase in efficiency and effectiveness is particularly important to the DOI, partly because it’s been referred to as the “Department of Everything Else”. It has vast responsibilities that include everything from fighting forest fires to monitoring wildlife to providing scientific insight about the nation’s natural resources and cultural heritage. Officials in the department recognized the potential drones could make for these tasks and more, but potential wasn’t going to be enough to make an investment. It meant the department had to move forward with drone technology while incurring zero acquisition and maintenance costs. From those humble beginnings came a program that has not only been expanded with that addition of VTOL UAVs, but has also been able to quantify the difference drones have made with saving $50 million in land and infrastructure value that could have otherwise been lost. Those financial benefits along with the impact to the DOI’s core mission underscore what it means to measure the value of this technology, but their path to creating that value is an especially relevant one to explore.
Office of Aviation Services, External News
Rene Roy, left, and Erich Freymann of BirdsEyeView Aerobotics demonstrate a vertical landing and takeoff drone at the company's test area in Andover. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)
3/31/2018
ANDOVER - When it became too dangerous for firefighters to fly planes into the smoke from California wildfires last year, a drone from an Andover company was called in to help. "With a drone like ours, you can put a thermal camera on there, you can fly through the smoke, you can see the fire through the smoke," said Adam Sloan, co-owner and CEO of BirdsEyeView Aerobotics. "It just gives them a way to be more effective in a particularly dangerous situation." Co-founded by two former NASA interns, the company was rewarded recently with a contract from the U.S. Department of the Interior to provide up to 50 drones over the next three years. The deal is worth up to $1.8 million, Sloan said.
Office of Aviation Services, Drones (UAS), External News
BLM Drones
3/30/2018
BOISE - Although snow still sits on the foothills, the next wildfire season will be here before we know it. The federal government wants to use drones to help fire crews. The Department of Interior has around 300 drones and the Bureau of Land Management has 120 of them. KTVB went to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise to see some of the drones. "Just be getting up 400 feet above the crew and looking down, that aerial perspective is unique and provides a great amount of information, especially in forested areas where you can't see the canopy," said Gil Dustin, who is the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Manager for the BLM. "We have an infrared camera, we have a mapping camera, and we have just the GoPro."
Office of Aviation Services, External News
Department of the Interior Image
3/14/2018
The U.S. Department of the Interior has selected Birdseyeview Aerobotics to produce 50 fixed-wing unmanned aircraft systems built for vertical take off and landing in support of land stewardship operations. The DOI said Tuesday it intends to use the UAS with technologies designed to aid in resource management and emergency response. The aircraft is expected to weigh no more than 10 pounds, observe a five-foot wingspan, allow for equipping of modular sensors, elevate to a maximum of 12,000 feet and fly through winds at 25 knots. The department awarded the contract to Birdseyeview following a process that identified requirements for the UAS. DOI predicts that it will increase UAS usage in 2018 by 50 percent, following 5,000 conducted UAS flights for missions in 2017.
Office of Aviation Services, External News
Department of the Interior Image
3/13/2018
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) will soon have the use of up to 50 vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fixed-wing unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The agency awarded a contract to Birdseyeview Aerobotics of Andover, N.H., to produce the drones and train DOI personnel. The aircraft weigh less than 10 pounds each and are capable of carrying a variety of modular sensors. In addition to being able to take off and land vertically in confined spaces, the new aircraft have a service ceiling of 12,000 feet and are able to operate in winds up to 25 knots. With an approximate wingspan of five feet, they can be quickly launched from spaces with a limited area, such as a boat, the DOI explains.
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