Montreal Start-up Unveils AI-Powered Balloons to Predict and Combat Forest Fires

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In the midst of Canada’s most devastating forest fire year, a Montreal-based start-up presents a system developed to assist authorities in combating future infernos. Katrina Albert, co-founder and president of the company, introduces the pivotal tool – an oversized white sphere that resides in the Quebec studio of LUX Aerobot.

Utilized for data acquisition on forest fires, these stratospheric balloons, paired with cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence, can forecast the course of these destructive emergencies. After liftoff, these balloons can remain airborne for several days, collecting high-resolution images. Thia crucial data can then be rapidly disseminated to the authorities on terra firma, thereby providing an advanced warning system.

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“Preventing fires from expanding protects not only our infrastructure and population but also our environment by reducing CO2 emissions,” Albert reinforced. This innovative solution has already caught the attention of high-profile individuals, earning LUX Aerobot a $500,000 contract with renowned entrepreneur Robert Herjavec of Dragon’s Den fame. The company takes pride in having secured a contract with Australia’s defence force and is engaged in negotiations with SOPFEU, Quebec’s wildfire response agency.

The year has been a challenging one for Quebec, being marked by wildfires that wreaked havoc on local forests and severely affected air quality across eastern North America. Montreal even bore the dubious distinction of having the world’s poorest air quality in late June due to 80 unbroken wildfires incinerating northern Quebec. Citizens with pulmonary issues were advised to remain indoors as the smoke descended southwards, infusing the city and extending into the United States.

Olivier Lundqvist, SOPFEU’s Information Technology and Performance Director, referred to it as a “blockbuster” event, one unimaginable in its ferocity and scale. SOPFEU is slated to put LUX Aerobot’s balloons through rigorous field trials in the coming year. The firm harbors plans to diversify their services to include surveillance of other natural disasters such as floods, coastal erosion, and even arctic security.

“Impelling investment into fresh innovation can equip us to surmount the imminent challenges,” Albert emphasized.

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