SIERRA Project

The SIERRA Project (Surveillance for Intelligent Emergency Response Robotic Aircraft)

SIERRA on WOWK ABC Charleston

SIERRA on WCPO ABC Cincinnati

iCorps Lessons Learned


SIERRA Team News

SIERRA Team Receiving Support from UC Fire Science Faculty
SIERRA Project Featured on BBC Radio, ABC News
MOST-AERO Labs Successfully Tests Autonomous SIERRA System


See SIERRA on Facebook

SIERRA Project

Principal Investigator: Dr. Kelly Cohen ( )

Co-Principal Investigator: Dr. Manish Kumar

Team Lead: Rob Charvat ( )

Team Members: Andrew Nels, Ted Meyer, Nich Buhr, Bryan Brown,
Nate Bodenschatz, Balaji Sharma, Sushill Garg

Motivation and Background (SP)

  • In the past decade, wildland fires, either natural or man-made, have caused a growing amount of devastation
  • This effort concerns the application of UAV technology to reduce the level of damage associated with wildland fires

Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)

  • Currently UAS are called upon to perform dull, dirty, and dangerous missions. To date, they are operated mainly by the military.
  • UAS can address the dirty and dangerous aspect of wildland fire.
  • The University of Cincinnati in collaboration with the state of West Virginia Forestry is developing a UAS system for wildland fire use (The SIERRA Project).

The SIERRA Project

  • The project calls for a live demonstration of a UAS system during a controlled wild fire.
  • The demonstration will provide important data for the continued development of a tactical UAS system for this application.
  • The tactical UAS system, based on the Marcus UAV, has a wing span of 54”, weighs 5 lbs, and has a flight time of 60 min. The aircraft will be hand launched and then flown using an autonomous system once airborne, while providing video and GPS data.
  • The event took place November 2011 in the Morgantown West Virginia area.

SIERRA Test Burn: 11/05/11

Sponsors and Funding

  • UC


  • Marcus UAV, Georgia
  • West Virginia Forestry Department, W.V.


  • Operational fire fighting units will have their own capability to deploy and operate the UAS for the enhancement of safety and improved performance.


 SIERRA Provost Visit Demonstration

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