Competition launched to end destructive wildfires
It seeks to generate strategies to detect and extinguish them.
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XPRIZE, the world leader in designing and operating large-scale incentive competitions to solve humanity's greatest challenges, today launched XPRIZE Wildfire, a 4-year global competition that will award $11 million in prizes to teams capable of developing and demonstrate fully autonomous capabilities to deal with this threat.
Peter H. Diamandis, executive chairman of the Board of XPRIZE, said:
We have been fighting wildfires the same way for decades – it’s not working, and the destruction is getting increasingly worse. We need a radical re-invention of how we detect and battle these blazes.
Fight Against Forest Fires
According to XPRIZE, the increase in severity of extreme wildfire events (EWE) has caused more than 80% of fire-related damage worldwide and cost approximately $350 billion in damage annually in the U.S. alone.
“EWEs spread at a faster rate and burn larger areas at higher intensities, wreak havoc on ecosystems, cause long-term global economic burdens, and often result in devastating injuries and loss of life. Despite these high environmental and economic costs, fire management technologies have not evolved significantly in decades and best practices have not changed in almost a century,” underlines XPRIZE.
Adding to this trend, the United Nations, the White House, and Congress have prioritized destructive wildfires as a major economic, environmental, and security threat.
“The convergence of exponential technologies such as AI, robotics, drones, and sensors offer us the opportunity to detect wildfires at inception, and put them out in minutes before they spread – that’s the mission of this XPRIZE,” added Diamandis.
Wildfires are intensifying in size, speed, and destructive power due to climate change, and current fire suppression tactics can’t keep up. The @xprize Wildfire competition could be a game-changer as teams aim to detect and suppress wildfires - in 10 minutes or less. #velshi pic.twitter.com/ztSKBjbb2i— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) April 22, 2023
XPRIZE Wildfire has set itself the goal of discovering new technologies that improve the detection and rapid suppression of potentially destructive wildfires, aiming to put an end to this threat for good.
Through the competition, teams from around the world will be incentivized to innovate across a wide range of technologies in two complementary tracks designed to transform the way fires are detected, managed and fought.
Some examples of proposed solutions are:
- In the Space-Based Wildfire Detection & Intelligence track, teams will have one minute to accurately detect all fires across a landscape larger than entire states or countries, and 10 minutes to precisely characterize and report data with the least false positives to fire managers on the ground.
- In the Autonomous Wildfire Response track, teams will need to monitor at least 1,000 km2, and autonomously suppress a wildfire within 10 minutes of detection.
- The $1M Lockheed Martin Accurate Detection Intelligence Bonus Prize will be awarded for innovations in accurate and precise detection of wildfires.
“In recent years, we’ve weathered some of the largest and most destructive wildfires in the history of our planet. It’s crucial that our federal agencies collaborate with the private sector to spur technology innovation to better support communities and address wildfire more holistically and to provide the firefighters on the frontlines a fighting chance to make a difference,” noted Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell, U.S. fire administrator at FEMA.