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What is thermal imaging?

Thermal imaging is the method of thermal radiation detection that allows observers to see an environment without the need for light. A thermal imaging device or thermal camera detects the heat signature that is emitted by all objects with a temperature above absolute zero. Objects closer to absolute zero in temperature produce less infrared radiation and objects with higher temperatures produce more infrared radiation. These absolutes allow operators to determine the temperature of objects at varying distances in diverse light conditions.

What are the use cases for thermal imaging and drones?

Over the years thermal imaging has made its way into commercial and industrial applications. Firefighters and law enforcement have used thermal imaging cameras to see through smoke or conduct search and rescue operations. Thermal imaging cameras have been used to indicate points of issues within powerlines and solar panels or even to improve efficiency in heating and air conditioning units.

(above is a video of the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual Isotherm Function)

One particular way to identify areas of interest is through isotherms. An isotherm is a color palette set to the operator’s heat preferences in order to highlight hot spots.

What is Thermography & Drones

On Dec 11, 2018, the Joshua Fire Department, in a joint effort with the Godley Fire Department, responded to a structure fire in an abandoned house located between the cities of Joshua and Godley.)

In Joshua, Texas, the Joshua Fire Department operations team needed to extinguish any flare-ups and were able to identify

them quickly by enabling the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual’s Isotherm feature. The team made use of customized color palettes to achieve better visibility of the area. The custom parameters allowed the firefighters to identify and extinguish the fires at a much faster pace. 

Color pallets are a useful way of filtering background thermal infrared radiation by assigning temperature ranges to lighter and darker shades. It’s very important that when using a thermal imaging camera, you select the color pallet that applies to your application.

One particular use case that law enforcement officials may utilize is a Black Hot Palette. This pallet displays hotter objects as darker shades and cooler objects as white. Black Hot displays a more lifelike image that could be of use in search and rescue operations.

Black Hot and White Hot might be more appealing toward showing realistic details in human beings or animals while Rainbow HC palette would be a better application for a broad view of temperature variations. You will notice when utilizing color pallet arrangements, it is easier to distinguish temperature variants within a scene with minimal heat change.

What is a Radiometric Thermal Imaging Camera?


Not all thermal imaging cameras are created equal and for some applications, radiometry is a necessity. Radiometric Thermal Cameras are thermal imaging cameras with the ability to quantifiably measure heat. These cameras may even allow you to save pictures and more accurately measure temperature by analyzing each individual image pixel. The data captured by radiometric cameras can also be used to determine average temperature by volume of selected pixels thus giving the data analyst more functionality for quantifiable results.

DJI H20T Series

Thermal Imaging Drone Applications include:

  • Preventative Maintenance
  • Power Line Inspection
  • Pipeline Inspection
  • Water Stress Detection
  • Search and Rescue
  • Surveillance
  • Fire Fighting
  • Solar Farm Inspection
  • Live-Stock Analysis
  • Law Enforcement
  • Utility Inspections
  • Roofing Inspection

For more information regarding UAVS Thermal Imaging, give MFE Rentals a call today!