Funding for early detection

Berlin-based start-up Dryad has secured e10.5 million in new funding to help commercialise its solar-powered sensor network for early detection of wildfires.

This latest Series A funding round follows the firm’s first equity seed stage, which raised e1.8 million, with investment from STIHL Digital, the venture capital arm of the chainsaw manufacturing company STIHL.

Dryad has spent more than two years developing its end-to-end Silvanet® ultra-early wildfire detection and forest monitoring system, which incorporates low-cost sensors, solar-powered LoRa® based mesh networking infrastructure and a cloud analytics platform – a market first.

The system monitors the surrounding air composition, temperature, humidity and air pressure. The small sensors attached to trees send alerts over an IoT mesh network to a cloud-based monitoring platform, which immediately issues an alert to relevant parties in the case of a fire.

The solution is said to detect wildfires in under 60 minutes – even during the smoldering phase, before there is an open fire. By contrast, camera and satellite-based solutions can take much longer to identify a fire because they rely on the smoke plume and heat developing enough to be detected from a long distance. By the time fire fighters arrive at the scene, the fires have often grown too large to be extinguished and can no longer be controlled.

The system uses mesh gateways featuring a proprietary distributed mesh network architecture – an extension to the LoRaWAN open standard for long-range radio IoT networks. The solar-powered gateways attach easily to trees at a height of about three metres above ground level and establish a large-scale IoT infrastructure. By adding additional sensors, the network can also be used to monitor tree health and growth.

This multi-hop mesh network, is seemingly ground-breaking as it makes it possible to cover very large forests rather than the 12km range typically supported by existing LoRaWAN gateways. This technology makes it economically viable to build a communications network for large forests where there is no mobile network coverage.

Dr. Paul-Josef Patt, CEO, of German technology venture capitalist eCAPITAL, which led the funding round, said: “Wildfires represent a huge global problem that has not been resolved effectively for too long. With Dryad’s highly scalable technology, we believe that from now on wildfires will be detected before they can cause damage.”