Robotic Wildfire Detection System: Smokey

Team: 9

School: Capital High

Area of Science: Environmental/Data/Computer Sciences & Engineering

Interim: The definition of the problem

The purpose of this project is to address and help with the frequent wildfires that are happening here, in the state of New Mexico every year. We were especially concerned and inspired by the most recent one that was the largest in New Mexico’s recorded history. More than 800,000 acres were burned in the state in 2022, including Calf Canyon, Hermit's Peak, Cooks Peak, and other areas.
This wildfire started by two prescribed burns in the Santa Fe National Forest, whose purpose was to thin dense pine forests. Unfortunately, strong winds, dry weather, and the hot temperature had caused these controlled fires to spread over their boundaries into each other's paths. The merging of these two prescribed burns ended up being what we now know as the Calf Canyon/Hermit’s Peak fire, resulting in the destruction of hundreds of homes and displacement of thousands of villagers.
Regardless of whether wildfires are controlled or uncontrolled, they should always be treated very seriously and with extreme caution because they are the source of pollution, and are life threatening. By releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, wildfires also contribute to global warming. Furthermore, forests purify the air that we breathe, offer a home to much of the world’s wildlife and flora, and provide natural resources (e.g. timber and medical plants). It should be one of the main goals of every generation to protect them, and now, we are this generation.

The team’s plan for solving the problem computationally and the progress the team has made up to this time

In order to address and help with the problem described above, the team designed a robotic fire weather conditions detection system which alerts about either very possible or already existing fires. While working on this project, the team regularly met with their engineering mentor.
The first task was to put the hardware pieces together (such as Arduino MEGA 2564, CO2 and TVOC sensor, Dust and Pollen sensor, Temperature and Humidity sensor, RTC Clock, BlueTooth and SD drives, Fire Detector, LCD display, and several LEDs). Next task was to program the components using C++ language. And finally, the performance of the robot had to be tested during different experiments and through the data collection and analysis. The experiments done by the team included burning incense, candles, and matches, turning humidifiers on/off, etc.
While working on these experiments, the team also collected data, which later will be used to perform further computational analysis and predictions. For this reason, the team will be using the Python programming language and a variety of libraries designed specifically for data science.

The results the team already got and still expects to get

The robot correctly detected increased/decreased levels of CO2, TVOC, smoke, and dust in the air, temperature and humidity, as well as it correctly sensed IR (Infrared Red) light reflected in a parabolic dish to the fire detector that was caused by the heat of the flames, which burnt in the chemical fume hood in their science lab.
The team still plans to do more measurements, and collect additional data to later use in further computational analysis. The purpose of these analyses is to check if the robot performs to its design specifications, and if so, the collected data will also be used to make predictions.


The New York Times. The Government Set a Colossal Wildfire. What Are Victims Owed? The New York Times, 2022., Accessed 16 November, 2022.
One Tree Planted. “How Trees Clean The Air.” One Tree Planted, Accessed 10 November, 2022.
Rodriguez, Christina. “Las Vegas Has about 30 Days Left of Clean Water.”, 19 Aug. 2022, Accessed 9 October, 2022.
Rodriguez, Vince. “These Are the Fires That Have Burned in New Mexico in 2022.” KOAT, KOAT, 11 June 2022, Accessed 10 September, 2022.
“Single Incident Information.” InciWeb, 16 Nov. 2022, Accessed 16 November, 2022.

Team Members:

  Zachariah Burch
  Daniel Leon
  Britny Marquez
  Isel I Aragon M

Sponsoring Teacher: Barbara Teterycz

Mail the entire Team