Orange County 8th grader Ryan Honary developing AI-driven system for early detection of wildfires

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) — The Coastal Fire in Aliso Woods Canyon grew from about 30 acres to nearly 200 acres in a matter of hours. Every second matters when a fire breaks out, which is why the Irvine Ranch Conservancy is evaluating technology that could become a game-changer for fire prevention.

The inventor behind this groundbreaking technology is Ryan Honary, an eighth grader at Pegasus School in Huntington Beach.

“I’ve been working on this for a very long time in my terms,” the 14-year-old student said.

Honary started working on this system in fifth grade. Since then, his research on utilizing artificial intelligence to detect wildfires at their earliest stages has won several awards and grants.

His sensors use a wireless mesh network to communicate heat or smoke information to what he calls a “mini-meteorological station.”

“With all the data that it’s constantly receiving from all of the detectors, it will predict where it believes the fire will grow,” Honary said.

The sensors are battery-powered and work in high-risk, secluded areas with little to no impact on the environment, costing roughly $10 each.

Honary believes that the sensors could later be adjusted to detect soil moisture, water levels or underwater oil leaks.

“My network can be used for environmental disasters that start from a small area and then spread to become larger,” he said.

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