Dryad Enters XPRIZE Wildfire Competition to Tackle the Global Wildfire Crisis

Dryad Networks, a leader in ultra-early wildfire detection, has announced that it will participate in XPRIZE Wildfire, a new four-year global competition that calls on teams from around the world to develop new solutions that more effectively detect and suppress potentially destructive wildfires. Dryad’s team will compete in the Autonomous Wildfire Response Track, where teams will have 10 minutes to autonomously detect and suppress a high-risk fire in a 1000 km2 environmentally challenging area while leaving any decoy fires untouched.

Dryad’s team, which includes acoustic wave fire suppression solutions developer Sonic Fire Tech and renowned drone researchers and academics, aims to develop a revolutionary autonomous solution in which ultra-early detection sensors pinpoint the exact location of a fire and direct drones to extinguish the fire in minutes. The drones will autonomously navigate environmentally challenging areas, locate the fire using a combination of infrared and bio-inspired event cameras, extinguish the fire with novel acoustic wave cannons, and return safely to a ground station. 

“The need for faster and more advanced wildfire detection and suppression methods has never been more clear, and radical new approaches are necessary to combat this global crisis,” said Carsten Brinkschulte, CEO and co-founder of Dryad. “XPRIZE is the perfect environment for climate solution innovators to collaborate and dream up solutions that could have significant impact in the very near future, and we’re thrilled to participate in this important challenge.” 

Geoff Bruder, interim CEO and co-founder of Sonic Fire Tech, said: “We have utilised our experience designing thermoacoustic engines for NASA to produce the first practical acoustic wave fire suppression system. Other suppression technologies that can be carried by small drones utilize a fixed payload, which limits the operational capabilities substantially. With Sonic Fire Tech’s zero carbon footprint acoustic suppression method, Dryad’s drones will be able to stay on site, actively employing fire suppression as long as the mission requires.”

Dryad envisions a future where innovative technologies, including but not limited to ultra-early detection solutions, play a critical role in the wildfire suppression ecosystem. Each year, the length of the fire season extends and more regions are impacted, resulting in the unfortunate loss of life, billions of dollars in economic damage, and catastrophic contributions to a global CO2 emissions crisis.

“The acceleration of climate change is making wildfires worse,” added Brinkschulte. “Year in and year out, we hear of megafires increasing in strength, frequency and destruction. New technologies can make this crisis a thing of the past, but we simply need to act now.”

The XPRIZE Wildfire competition is officially open and teams will compete for more than $11 million in cash prizes. Stay tuned for updates from the Dryad team as research and development advances.

Dryad provides ultra-early detection of wildfires as well as health & growth-monitoring of forests through the Silvanet solution – solar-powered gas sensors deployed in a large-scale IoT sensor network. Dryad aims to reduce unwanted wildfires, which cause up to 20% of global CO2 emissions and have a devastating impact on biodiversity. By 2030, Dryad aims to prevent 3.9 million hectares of forest from burning, preventing 1.7 billion metric tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Sonic Fire Tech has developed the world’s first practical acoustic wave fire suppression system that is portable, scalable, and powerful enough to tackle real world fire scenarios. Sonic Fire Tech will provide devices to prevent structure fires in high-risk areas, suppress wildfires before they have a chance to spread, and provide an alternative fire solution for commercial and residential applications.