Key Advantages of FireMapper Over Older Technology Thermal Imaging Systems
1. Uncooled microbolometer detector technology
FM uses the latest uncooled microbolometer detectors developed by the U.S. DoD. These microbolometer detectors were rated as one of the most important technologies in the U.S. and hundreds of millions of dollars have already been invested and more is being invested in future versions of the detectors. SI was one of the first companies funded by both DoD and NASA to develop non-military applications, such as FireMapper for the microbolometer detectors. Improvements are continually being made and this technology will keep getting better and better, and that means that future SI sensors will keep getting better, as older technology sensors are retired.
2. No need for liquid nitrogen or refrigerators
There is no need to cool the detectors, which reduces maintenance costs, improves reliability, and reduces size and complexity of the sensor. You will never have to refill dewars or replace refrigerator pistons again.
3. Flight-proven technology
The FireMapper system was designed, developed, and flight-tested for over 2 years on a Research Joint Venture with the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill its fire mapping and tactical fire fighting requirements. The system has been flown operationally in the harsh environments of large wildfires in California, Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, and Alaska.
4. No high-speed scan mirrors or image distortions due to aircraft motion
Through its "snapshot" mode, FireMapper captures the whole image at once and thus does not suffer from image distortions from aircraft pitch, roll, and yaw. High-speed scan mirrors used in line scanners are complex and costly and difficult to maintain.
5. Accurate mapping of wildfire temperatures without saturating
Some sensors only have a single spectral band with 12-bit encoding to perform all missions and they will thus saturate on anything warm in the scene. FireMapper has 16-bit encoding (for 16 times more dynamic range) plus 2 separate narrow spectral bands for accurate temperature mapping of wildfires up to 1200 ÉC without saturating. This enables incident commanders to assign fire fighters to the most active portions of the wildfire and not be mislead by smoldering ash where the fire has already been extinguished. The wideband channel provides optimum sensitivity for the other applications.
6. Proprietary calibration system for superior images
Our calibration system automatically calibrates every pixel in real time with respect to temperature and corrects for optical and radiometric non-uniformities to provide optimum image quality and maximum detection capability.
7. Automatic operation with small tablet PC
FireMapper operates automatically without the need for a dedicated operator sitting at a table with a monitor and keyboard with the windows covered to prevent glare on the monitor. A co-pilot or air attack officer in the front seat can easily view the real time images on the handheld tablet PC and touch a button to record the data. The tablet works even in direct sunlight. Images can be displayed in grey scale or any of 3 color palettes and individual images and their GPS coordinates can be zoomed on, saved and replayed upon command.
8. Redundant drive systems to record data
Data can be recorded on redundant drive systems and easily downloaded from the tablet drive or any of the USB drives. The amount of remaining time and space on each drive is constantly presented to the operator.
9. Tactical operating mode allows low altitude operation
Rapid operation in the "tactical" mode allows imaging down to altitudes as low as 100 feet. (FireMapper has even recorded images of the end of the airport runway while landing.)
10. Better temperature sensitivity and better temperature resolution
By staring at the scene to increase the integration time and capture the whole frame at once with 16-bit encoding, the temperature sensitivity is improved and the temperature resolution is up to 10 times better that other thermal sensors. The proprietary calibration system greatly reduces pattern noise and allows smaller temperature differences to be detected. This allows more accurate mapping of water and pollution temperatures, oil spill thicknesses, and earlier and more accurate detection of small spot fires from high altitudes.
11. Works on virtually any fixed wing, rotary, or UAV platform
Our compact sensor is only 7" x 7" x 6" in size and only weighs 7 pounds. Its rugged design includes gasket seals and a door that protects against contamination when not imaging. It is so lightweight that it can even be operated while hand held.