InDro Robotics tapped to fly drone missions at Kelowna fire

InDro Robotics tapped to fly drone missions at Kelowna fire

By Scott Simmie


As forest fires continue to threaten Kelowna, BC, officials have urged tens of thousands of residents to heed warnings and evacuate from the area. Some 30,000 people are currently under an evacuation order, with another 36,000 being told to stand by and be ready to flee if necessary.

“We cannot stress strongly enough how critical it is to follow evacuation orders when they are issued,” said BC minister of Emergency Management Bowinn Ma on Saturday. “They are a matter of life and death not only for the people in those properties, but also for the first responders who will often go back to try to implore people to leave.”

Now, the City of Kelowna has called on InDro Robotics to assist with the effort by flying drone missions to gather specific data.

Recent footage shows just how close the fire is to the city:

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On Friday, InDro Robotics was approached by the City of Kelowna to assist in damage assessment by flying drones in the affected areas and also to carry out thermal missions. The first flights are being deployed today (Monday, August 21, 2023).

InDro is carrying out thermal missions over the city landfill, which is burning beneath the surface. A FLIR sensor will identify hot spots for those involved with fire management.

“With a rapidly changing situation, decision-makers need the best available data,” explains InDro CEO Philip Reece. “The thermal data will be useful – as these subterranean fires, which can smoulder for days and even weeks, are not visible to the naked eye.”

In addition, InDro will be flying missions to assess damage and pull together high-resolution photogrammetry. Plans are to use the Spexigon platform for those missions.




The Spexigon platform simplifies the acquisition and processing of high-resolution earth imagery using most popular drones.

The software standardises the capture to produce imagery at scale. The process begins with Spexigon capturing and indexing raw drone imagery. That imagery can then be used by the SpexiGeo software (or other third-party platforms).  The imagery below was captured by Spexigon, but processed and viewed on the SpexiGeo app (you can scroll through the imagery and zoom in, revealing the high resolution).



Spexigon automates the flights; the pilot’s job is simply to monitor the airspace like a visual observer (though manual control can be taken over at any time). This automation results in greater accuracy when capturing data over targets of interest and produces a database that can easily and securely be accessed by decision-makers.

The Spexi app provides access to multiple features, including:

  • Planning tools for efficient and accurate data acquisition
  • Autonomous flight using the latest DJI drones
  • Secure, cloud-based footage processing and sharing
  • Survey work using Ground Control Points

“Obtaining high-resolution photogrammetry requires precise flying – including maintaining a consistent height above ground level,” says Reece. “The automated flights will ensure consistent photos – which will provide decision-makers with a clear picture of what’s been damaged, and to what extent.”




The spectacle of this raging fire has, unfortunately, drawn some unwanted attention. Officials say unauthorized drones flights have been taking place with people posting video to social media. The presence of drones not directly related to emergency operations is both illegal and dangerous. Water bombers and helicopters are in regular use and drones can pose a threat to those operations.

“Drones are a significant hazard to our air crews fighting fires,” said Bruce Ralson, BC’s Minister of Forests, on Saturday. “Now is not the time to take the footage or photos of active wildfires. Not only is it irresponsible, but it is illegal to fly them in fire areas.”

InDro is working closely with Kelowna emergency operations to ensure any drone flights do not pose a conflict with crewed aviation.

“This will be an ongoing operation and we’ll obviously be taking great care to ensure any InDro-operated flights are well clear of other aerial firefighting operations,” says Reece (pictured below).

InDro Robotics



The wildfires near Kelowna – and Yellowknife – are obviously of serious concern. InDro hopes to make a meaningful contribution to those involved in the emergency response.

“Drone-gathered data – whether thermal or visual – helps those in charge make the best possible decisions in a rapidly changing situation,” says InDro’s Reece. “We will fly missions as long as required, and offer any other assistance we can. We hope the situation for the tens of thousands of people impacted by this disaster returns to normal as soon as possible.”

We’ll provide further updates as missions progress.

Update: Following the completion of our missions, the City of Kelowna provided the following statement.

“The Regional District of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Center contracted InDro Robotics to capture drone footage of the Clifton-McKinley fire area.  Flights were coordinated and authorized through the Emergency Operations Center.

“The thermal imagery captured by drones improved firefighting by providing precise data on underlying fire threats. Marking specific hotspots on maps where the ground temperature exceeded safe levels allowed responders to pinpoint exactly where fires were burning underground, ensuring a more effective and targeted response. In addition, the footage allowed Emergency Operations Center staff to share imagery with directly impacted property owners, allowing them to understand the magnitude of the damage before it was safe to allow re-entry.”

Credit for feature image: Murray Foubister via Wikimedia Commons


Spexi announces “Spexigon” – a global fly-to-earn platform

Spexi announces “Spexigon” – a global fly-to-earn platform

Vancouver-based Spexi Geospatial has some news – and it’s big.

The company has announced a plan, and a platform, to capture high-resolution aerial data of the earth with drones. Drone pilots will be able to fly to earn crypto currency – or even dollars.

The long-term goal? Well, picture crystal-clear data sets of cities, infrastructure, and even rural settings. With each individual pilot capturing data from different locations, Spexigon will assemble it over time to form a global jigsaw puzzle – and sell parts of that dataset to clients.

We’ll get into more details shortly, but Spexi’s plan has some strong backers – including InDro Robotics.


News release


News of Spexigon came in the form of an announcement. The company revealed it had secured $5.5 million USD in seed funding “to pursue our vision of collecting Earth’s most important data with drones.” The funding round was led by Blockchange Ventures, with other investing by InDro Robotics, Protocol Labs, Alliance DAO, FJ Labs, Dapper Labs, Vinny Lingham, Adam Jackson, and CyLon Ventures.

The same team that built Spexi – an easy-to use system for automated flight and data acquisition – is developing Spexigon. This brief video gives a “big picture” look at how it will work when it’s rolled out next year.

“Fly to earn”


A big part of what makes Spexigon’s plan so intriguing is what you might call incentivised crowd-sourcing. Anyone with a drone can download the forthcoming Spexigon app and fly an automated flight. The images will be uploaded to Spexigon to build the database – and the pilot will be rewarded.

“With our new Fly-to-Earn model, people who own consumer drones will be able to earn $SPEXI tokens and dollars while building a high resolution base layer of the earth,” reads the Spexigon announcement. “It is our hope that soon any organization or individual will be able to use the imagery collected by the Spexigon platform to make better decisions.”


Business model


You could think of this over time as like Google Earth, only with really sharp aerial imagery. Every time a pilot carries out a flight for Spexigon, that map will continue to fill in, building Spexigon’s database. Clients will purchase imagery online.

“This new base layer will enable governments and organizations of all sizes to make better decisions about real world assets like buildings, utilities, infrastructure, risk and natural resources, without requiring people on the ground,” continues the announcement.

“By using Spexigon, organizations that require high-resolution aerial imagery will no longer need to own their own drones or hire their own pilots. Instead, they’ll use our web and mobile app to search for and purchase imagery. Data buyers will then be able to use a variety of internal and external tools to put the imagery to use.”


For pilots


Spexigon says it will have online training when it launches. Pilots will learn how to use the app to carry out their flights – which, obviously, the pilots will monitor. Depending on the location, pilots can earn crypto currency or actual dollars. Some locations, obviously, will have greater value to Spexigon and its clients than others.

“The app will contain a map of the earth overlaid with hexagonal zones called ‘Spexigons’. Spexigons that are open and ready to fly will be easily visible so pilots can choose an area close to them and begin collecting imagery,” says the company.

“To ensure that imagery is captured in a safe, standardized, and repeatable way, our app controls each pilot’s drone automatically while they supervise the flight. Although our app will do the flying, pilots will always be in command and will have the ability to take back manual control at any time if need arises.”

Spexigon is now starting to build the app, and already has a small community emerging. You can join its Telegram channel here – and there’s also a Discord channel.

As for those ‘Spexigons’, the image below gives you an idea what those pieces of the puzzle might look like.


InDro’s take


Since InDro Robotics is one of the backers of Spexigon, we obviously feel the plan is a good one.

It comes from the outstanding team that built Spexi from scratch into a user-friendly, automated system for capturing and crunching aerial data. We also believe drone pilots will embrace this unique “fly to earn” model – a global first.

“The Spexi team has already created an excellent and proven Software as a Solution product and clearly has the expertise in this space,” says InDro Robotics CEO Philip Reece. “I’m genuinely excited about the potential for Spexigon to become the ‘go-to’ database of high-quality aerial imagery from around the world.”

So are the rest of us.