An integrated defence system to protect Australia from catastrophic bushfires

An integrated defence system to protect Australia from catastrophic bushfires


ANU’s research program aims to:

  • Detect and locate a bushfire within 60 seconds of ignition
  • Communicate the location to extinguishing agent
  • Launch accurately targeted aerial vehicle 
  • Extinguish fire within five minutes of ignition 

A staged approach

ANU is planning to research and develop:

  • A best bet short term approach ready for the next fire season in South Eastern Australia and based upon current and modified technology – this may include detection in a particular region such as the ACT using a high altitude drone system with a currently operational camera and new filters; 
  • In the medium-term a detection and location approach will be developed which may involve constellations of cube-sats as well as faster and more effective extinguishing platforms and agents;
  • In the longer-term the detection approach is likely to include a large geostationary satellite bearing a telescope able to detect very small fires; and rapid response drones capable of accurate and effective lines of attack.  

Fields of research

Environmental and Natural Resources Law; Emerging Technologies

Project team

Dr Roslyn Prinsley (lead), Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation, ANU

Dr Philippa Ryan, ANU College of Law

ANU College of Computer Science and Engineering

InSpace, in particular the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics

ANU Fenner School of Environment and Society

ANU Climate Change Institute

Project start

February 2020

Project status


Updated:  10 August 2015/Responsible Officer:  College General Manager, ANU College of Law/Page Contact:  Law Marketing Team