(Hong Kong, 13 Jan 2012)
Insight Robotics Limited, a home-grown robotics technology developer and a member of the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) incubation programme, yesterday conducted a pilot run of its award-winning “Early Stage Wildfire Detection and Prediction Wireless Sensor Network” system in Qingyuan (清遠), Guangdong. Developed in partnership with the Qingyuan Forestry and Guangdong Academy of Forestry, the system can significantly shorten the fire detection lead time to prevent uncontrollable spread of the fire. The innovative technology has recently gained recognition at the 11th Asia Pacific ICT Awards under the category “Best of Research & Development”.
Around 28 times the size of Hong Kong Destroyed by Wildfire Annually in China
Forests act as carbon storehouses and play a vital role in maintaining stable global climate and environment. Wildfire creates huge environmental impact, carbon emission, global warming and tragic loss of lives and properties. According to the China State Forestry Administration, around 2% of forest land is destroyed because of wildfire every year, adding up to a total area that is equivalent to 28 times the size of Hong Kong.
Mr Kevin Chan, Chairman of Insight Robotics Limited said, “As wildfire cannot be completely prevented, the best way to protect the forests is to shorten the fire detection time to avoid uncontrollable spread of the fire. With the mission to reserve the forestland of China, we are commissioned by the authority to develop and to deploy our robotics technology ‘Early Stage Wildfire Detection and Prediction Wireless Sensor Network’ in Guangdong province.”
Wildfire Signals Sent within 0.5 Second
The pilot run started with introduction of the key features of the system, “We have installed wireless sensor nodes in the Qingyuan forest, which forms a self-repairing mesh network. Every five (5) minutes the system will automatically scan the specific area of a forest. When wildfire breaks out, the sensor nodes will detect the occurrence based on the changes in humidity, temperature, gas concentration and Infrared level of the specific area. Within 0.5 second, the nodes will send signals to the system operator, who can immediately locate the fire scene. Even in cases when the nodes are burnt in fire, they will manage to transmit signals before ‘death’ to the neighbouring nodes for notifying the operator”, said Mr Chan.
Insight Robotics then ignited fire in the forest for demonstration. Within 3 minutes, the nodes had sent wildfire signal to the Qingyuan Fire Control Centre where the duty operator can immediately locate the fire scene. The operator then released an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to the location to take real-time infrared images, which helped estimate the severity of the wildfire and the operator can deploy in-time remedy actions to stop the spread of the wildfire.
Breakthrough in Wildfire Detection
Mr Chan added, “The new technology is a breakthrough in wildfire detection. Nowadays manned lookout towers and reports from forest visitors are common ways to detect fire, yet they are non-automated and rely on human judgement. Some organisations deploy Satellite Imagery System, yet it only reflects large-scale forest fires instead of early and small-scale ones. It is also not easy to analyse the infrared images collected and it takes at least 1 to 2 hours to locate the fire scene. Our innovative system is set to overcome these limitations.”
Prior to the pilot run in Qingyuan, Insight Robotics had conducted field tests respectively in Hungshan(紅山) and Zengcheng(增城) in Guangdong with proven success. Apart from applications in China, Insight Robotics is also exploring opportunities to apply the system in country parks of Hong Kong.
Mr Chan said, “Thanks to the Guangdong Academy of Forestry, it has offered invaluable help and advice during our research and development last year. The pilot run today not only marks the first real application of the system in China, but also the fruitfulness of Hong Kong/Guangdong cooperation in the technological aspect.”
About Insight Robotics Limited
Insight Robotics Limited (formerly known as Insight Innovation and Technology Limited) was founded in 2009 in Hong Kong by a group of young and energetic mechanical, electrical & software engineers, and robot lovers. Its goal is to innovate for improving people’s lives. The founders believe real automation through smart integration of electronics and computer engineering, not only enables people to work more efficiently and effectively, but also maximises the use of our limited resources. Insight Robotics Limited is currently an incubatee of Incu-TechTM Programme of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation.
About Incubation Programmes of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTPC) offers full-service incubation programmes to assist start-ups in their vulnerable inception stages. Ranging from the 2-year Incu-Design Programme for design, to the 3-year Incu-Tech Programme for technology and the 4-year Incu-Bio Programme for biotechnology start-ups, the programmes incorporate industry-focused support services that address the needs of new companies during key stages of development. These include marketing and promotions, training and talent development, mentoring programme, consultancy services, investment matching events to connect angel investors and venture capitalists, subsidised R&D fitted office space and financial aid packages to facilitate research and development. Technology start-ups can also benefit from the advanced laboratories and test centres backed up by a team of professional engineers to support research and development in the five focused technology areas: Electronics, Information Technology and Telecommunications, Precision Engineering, Biotechnology and Green Technology.
HKSTPC is dedicated to advancing technological innovation and growth in Hong Kong through the provision of state-of-the-art infrastructure and services. Further information about HKSTPC and the incubation programmes is available at www.hkstp.org and www.hkstp.org/incubation.html.