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Aerometrex launches bushfire fuel load calculation technology

Calculated 3D fuel load densities around buildings with Aerometrex’s new system. Image provided.

Aerometrex has announced the launch of a sophisticated 3D fuel load calculation tool that leverages LiDAR-derived point cloud data and aerial imagery with custom algorithms. 

The aerial imagery firm says that the new tool can deliver high resolution 3D data of fuel loads under tree canopies in real time, able to provide detailed information not previously available to emergency services.

The launch comes after a period of intensive R&D by the firm, in a year that saw the Bushfire Royal Commission produce detailed recommendations, along with state inquiries and new funding for bushfire and disaster research.

Aerometrex carried out research at ten eucalypt forest sites in Belair National Park, testing the capability of aerial LiDAR acquisition to measure vegetation density and structure.

Managing director Mark Deuter said that the firm understands it is the first system able to standardise LiDAR capture for bushfire fuel load mapping in Australia, and the system is capable of high accuracy down to a height of 25-50cm above the ground.

“Aerometrex researchers developed a set of targeted vegetation metrics that accurately define the density, vertical connectivity and the horizontal continuity of the vegetation across the three key vegetation layers  — near-surface, elevated lower canopy and upper canopy –which are analogous to those defined in South Australian bushfire fuel load assessment standards,” he said.

“Proprietary algorithms were then developed that can be used to combine these fuel layer specific vegetation metrics into regional bushfire fuel load estimates, that show strong statistical correlation with overall fuel assessments previously collected within the study area by bushfire management experts using South Australian standardised field methods.”

The firm says that the technology is far more accurate than satellite imagery or RADAR with respect to capturing vegetation structure and density, and can be scaled from a single square metre, to a single home or entire region.

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