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Will Technology Help Extinguish Raging Fires in the West?

Technology is rising as a new hope in the era of very large fires.

Recent fires in the west coast states of the US have spurred mass evacuations in California, Oregon, and Washington. Some of these fires have evolved into mega-fires that have turned blue skies to dark red. The most recent fires caused Portland, OR, to have the worse air quality on the entire planet. In terms of physical damage, the current California fires alone have burned over 3 million acres and claimed tens of lives.

While the cost of the recent fires is still unknown, the cost of similar past wildfires is staggering. In 2018, $3.5bn was spent on fighting wildfires in California alone. Much of today’s fire management techniques are expensive and put human lives at risk. But technology is starting to help. The following provides a glimpse into how predictive software, virtual reality, drones, and robotics will make a big difference in battling the emerging era of mega-fires.

John Blyler is a Design News senior editor, covering the electronics and advanced manufacturing spaces. With a BS in Engineering Physics and an MS in Electrical Engineering, he has years of hardware-software-network systems experience as an editor and engineer within the advanced manufacturing, IoT and semiconductor industries. John has co-authored books related to system engineering and electronics for IEEE, Wiley, and Elsevier.

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