North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently partnered with Vector Aerial to purchase a DJI Matrice 200 series drone. The department sought out unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology because of its ability to detect fire hotspots through a thermal camera.

Daniel Madding, information support services director, said the use of drones has the potential to replace helicopters, which are used for fire hotspot mapping, saving the department a significant amount of money.

“During forest fires, we hope to use the drone to capture hotspots that may have jumped the fire control line using true and thermal infrared (TIR),” he said.

Madding explained why the DJI Matrice 200 was the ideal drone for detecting these hotspots.

“We didn’t need the ability to carry two sensors, so we purchased the 200,” he said. “We picked the Matrice series because we wanted to be able to do multispectral and TIR imagery. We also did not want a toy that might fly away or crash easily. We saw the need to have an autonomous flight feature and anti-collision functionality.”

The DJI Matrice 200 series is built to endure and engineered to adapt. It is the ideal drone for public safety departments, and is known for its industrial inspections, construction site mapping, firefighting assistance, precision agriculture and more. Two higher-class drones in the Matrice 200 series include the 210 and 210 RTK, which both offer multiple gimbal and payload options.

Madding, along with two colleagues, Bruce Akers, DVM central region EP veterinarian, and Travis Shidal, western region EP specialist, trained with Vector Aerial to learn how to fly their new drone at Dorothea Dix Park on June 2. Vector Aerial is a leading nationwide provider of DJI enterprise drones and training.

According to Madding, they anticipate investing in more drones in the future and already have as many as several FAA 107 certified pilots and plan on adding more.

“We hope to get a multispectral sensor camera if next year’s budget allows,” Madding said. “N.C. Forest Service also hopes to buy several Mavic series drones when the budget allows.”