Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Daniel J. Biezad


In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have become a dominant force in the aerospace industry. Recent technological developments have moved these aircraft from remote operation roles to more active response missions. Of particular interest is the possibility of applying UAVs toward solving complex problems in long-endurance missions. Under that belief, the feasibility of utilizing UAVs for wildfire detection and response was investigated in a partnership that included NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and Science Mission Directorate, and the United States Forest Service. Under NASA’s Intelligent Mission Management (IMM) project, research was conducted to develop a mission architecture that would enable use of a high altitude UAV to search for reported wildfires with a separate low altitude UAV supporting ground assets.

This research proposes a “straw man” concept incorporating both a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV and a Low Altitude Short Endurance (LASE) UAV in a loosely coupled, low cost solution tailored towards wildfire response. This report identifies the communications architecture, algorithms, and required system configuration that meets the outlined goals of the IMM project by mitigating wildfires and addressing the United States Forest Service immediate needs. The end product is a defined parent-child framework capable of meeting all wildfire mission goals. The concept has been implemented in simulation, the results of which are presented in this report.