MRFEE is a hyper-portable air traffic control (ATC)-Radar System that can be established in an area, self-organize, and be automatically mobilized where fire suppression efforts are most likely to require aerial support. This is accomplished through a combination of the fusing of several IC based technologies, all of which are relatively low power (can be battery powered) and available as a low SWaP component.
By combining these technologies with purpose built algorithms to localize both authorized aerial assets as well as unauthorized assets, the following issues can be addressed:
Not all aerial assets in the airspace are controlled, and unplanned drones have forced aerial assets to shut down during critical operations in at least 100 known cases. Any ATC system needs to be able to operate even if "undesired or uncontrolled” assets are operating. We cannot assume that all assets are tracked, or that onboard sensors alone will ensure safe operations.
Onboard sensors on the SUAS that are authorized to operate can be communicated with UTM but are a single point of failure (in case of loss of communication) and only account for systems under the control of the incident command group. This also requires full integration of any system in use with UTM, which can limit flexibility significantly in which assets can be used and under what conditions.
Any system used for the localization of aerial assets in a systematic way must be lightweight, portable, and be easy to power and use as wildfires move extremely quickly, and the location of the system must be considered to be semi-mobile to fully mobile.
MRFEE is a particularly important concept because the enablement of wildfire response can reduce the impact that wildfires have on the burgeoning climate crisis, wildfire response staffing shortages, and the billions of dollars of property loss each year, particularly in western states.
This is intedned to be a direct extension of NASA's UTM, and STEReO systems and would be extremely useful in that capacity. In general this technology would be an ideal way to coordinate mobile resources wherever a lack of steady infrastructure is available, such as during early lunar and martian operations. The MRFEE system can just as easily coordinate ground assets as well as aerial assets.
The most immediate use for such a system, specialized as it is towards supporting aerial wildifire response, will largely be used in that capacity initially. There are several relevant “customers” for such as system including but not limited to the National Interagency Fire Administration (NIFA), United States Forest Service, as well as significant State Wildfire departments.