News Column

Patent Issued for Automatic Asset Detection for Disaster Relief Using Satellite Imagery

June 4, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Engineering -- The United States of America, as Represented by the Secretary of the Navy (Washington, DC) has been issued patent number 8731237, according to news reporting originating out of Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews editors.

The patent's inventors are Fitzsimmons, Bo (San Diego, CA); Buck, Heidi (San Diego, CA); Bagnall, Bryan (San Diego, CA); Sharghi, Elan (San Diego, CA).

This patent was filed on June 28, 2012 and was published online on May 20, 2014.

From the background information supplied by the inventors, news correspondents obtained the following quote: "Aerial firefighter pilots often use helicopters with attached Bambi buckets or hanging snorkels to collect water for air attacks on fires. The sources of water for these aerial firefighters can range from large lakes and reservoirs to pumpkins, which are small portable swimming pools installed by firefighters on the ground, and which tend to be slightly larger than the Bambi bucket. The pumpkin is a solution for areas where transit time to a known lake or reservoir is too long, but it requires time and personnel to set up, and a highly skilled pilot to safely access the pumpkin with the Bambi bucket. In still other scenarios, it may be desirable to obtain water from local swimming pools, particularly in areas where water sources are in scarce supply, and/or too remote from the fire location to allow for effective aerial firefighting.

"When helicopters are used for aerial fighting, the pilot may in some cases be able to locate a body of water without assistance. But the helicopter may not have enough altitude to be able to see all bodies of water that are within range for firefighting efforts. Additionally, the pilot is engaged in operating the aircraft safely during the firefighting efforts, often by literally flying the helicopter through fire. The pilot often will not have enough time to look for water sources. What is desired is a system and method that detects water bodies within a selected range of a fire location and that either relays the water resource location to the helicopter pilot in a format that can be understood quickly, or simply vectors the pilot to the water resource by providing a heading and a range to the water body.

"One way to accomplish the above could be to detect bodies of water using satellite imagery. But detecting bodies of water or other regions of interest, particularly in multispectral satellite images, is currently a manual process, where an analyst examines the image to find the water bodies. The analysts must then superimpose the imagery over a geo-referenced image, so that the analyst can gather each region's latitude and longitude and manually record the data. Finally, the analyst must relay the position data of the water resource to the aerial firefighter pilot.

"In view of the above, it is an object of the present invention to provide a system and method for asset detection relief that can locate disaster relief assets such as bodies of water for remote firefighting efforts. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method for asset detection relief that displays geo-referenced, automatically detected swimming pools from satellite images that will quickly and accurately provide information of alternate, potentially strategic water sources for aerial firefighters. Another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method for asset detection relief that can generate location data for water body resources in a format that is quickly and easily understood by an aerial firefighter pilot. Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a system and method for asset detection relief that can generate location data for water body resources and simultaneously disseminate that location data to a plurality of firefighting assets to minimize the flight time of each aerial asset to the water body and to ensure that assets are not vectored to the same water body. Still another object of the device is to provide a system and method for asset detection relief that is easy to manufacture and use in a cost-effective manner."

Supplementing the background information on this patent, VerticalNews reporters also obtained the inventors' summary information for this patent: "A system and method for automatic detection of disaster relief assets from a satellite image according to several embodiments can include a satellite and a processor that can be in communication with the satellite. The processor can contain non-transitory written directions that can perform a method, said method, which can include the step of defining a spectra of interest (SOI). The SOI is typically a color of the visible spectrum that is indicative of an asset. For example, for detection of water bodies for fire-fighting assets, the SOI can be defined to be portions of the visible blue range.

"The methods according to several embodiments can further include the step of building a reference spectral profile that can be based on the SOI. The reference spectral profile can extend into the near infrared wavelength range, in order to eliminate false positive indications. A satellite image of the spatial region of interest (ROI) can be taken. For each pixel in the ROI, test spectra of the spatial ROI can be extracted and compared to reference spectral profile using a spectral angle mapper (SAM) tool. When the comparison using the SAM tool falls below a certain value, that pixel of the ROI can be deemed to be indicative of a disaster relief asset. In cases where the pixel is indicative of a disaster relief asset, the geo-reference data for that pixel can be transmitted to a remote user (or simultaneously to a plurality of remote users) for the user's consideration."

For the URL and additional information on this patent, see: Fitzsimmons, Bo; Buck, Heidi; Bagnall, Bryan; Sharghi, Elan. Automatic Asset Detection for Disaster Relief Using Satellite Imagery. U.S. Patent Number 8731237, filed June 28, 2012, and published online on May 20, 2014. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=46&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=2253&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=20140520.PD.&OS=ISD/20140520&RS=ISD/20140520

Keywords for this news article include: The United States of America as Represented by the Secretary of the Navy.

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Source: Journal of Engineering


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