Drone Amplified has taken a unique approach to fight fires. The company has developed drone-mounted technology that carries chemical spheres the size of ping-pong balls, which drop and ignite at the press of a button to intentionally spark small fires that burn vegetation and starve incoming wildfires of potential fuel. Its product fills a niche in the market between a helicopter, which is expensive, and hand lighting, where people have to walk or take a four-wheeler. Every task that the drone performs is automated thanks to a custom software application that the company developed. Operators can also use the software application to create virtual boundaries (geofences) that keep the unmanned aircraft system (UAS) within selected areas. The UAS is also equipped with a thermal camera, which not only helps with visibility, but also allows firefighters to conduct nighttime operations, which are generally considered off limits due to low visibility.

Website: www.droneamplified.com

Dr. Carrick Detweiler, CEO, received his B.A. in 2004 from Middlebury College and Ph.D. in 2010 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a focus on robotics. In 2010 he joined the faculty of the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). He co-founded and co-directs the Nebraska Intelligent MoBile Unmanned Systems (NIMBUS) Lab at UNL, which focuses on developing novel drone algorithms and systems that interact with the environment. He is a senior member of the National Academy of Inventors. In 2015 he co-founded and is CEO of Drone Amplified. Drone Amplified’s mission is to develop, market, and sell integrated drone systems, services and data analytics for aerial ignition and forest fire mapping. Its signature product, IGNIS, is a drone-base system that allows firefighters to remotely ignite backburns and prescribed burns while staying out of harm’s way. Drone Amplified’s technology is redefining fire management practices, enabling the semi-autonomous dropping of ignition spheres and the monitoring of fires while keeping personnel far from the fire with lower cost and higher availability. The technology is orders of magnitude less costly to purchase and operate and more readily available than helicopters, safer than sending personnel on foot or on ATVs into dangerous fires, and more efficient for managing large and complex areas. The technology is available as a product and a service to private organizations and government agencies.

James Higgins, President and Chief Engineer, received his M.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Mechanical Engineering. He worked for a UAS company before joining Drone Amplified to lead the development of Ignis.

Simon Weibel, Operations and Sales, is a former wildland firefighter and hotshot crew member. He now leads training and operations of Ignis for Drone Amplified.

Evan Beachly, VP of Software Engineering, received his M.S. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Computer Science. He joined Drone Amplified and is leading the development of the software and analytics systems for firefighting.

Louis Lamberty, VP of Sales and Marketing, is a seasoned business manager with over 30 years of experience in business development and is the former VP of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce. He now leads sales, marketing, and business development at Drone Amplified.