Helia, Smart Alert from the sky-helium lifted AI

Domain #2

Disaster resilience



Open Call #1 laureate

Description of the project

Helia is a versatile tethered aerostat permanently flying at high altitude, embedding AI for real time alert of hazards with full autonomy.

Wildfires, an increasing problem worldwide causing immense damage, is the first use case proposed, reducing the time taken to detect wild-fires, thus allowing a far more rapid response by firefighters. Helia will be deployed in vulnerable areas, constantly monitoring for fire from its advantageous high altitude position. Helia will then allow monitoring the fire restart danger.

Moreover, Helia is very versatile, being able to monitor various risks at the same time in areas such as national parks, cities or littoral areas, where there can be multiple potential problems requiring immediate response. It could also be a rapidly deployed backup solution to provide protective surveillance over critical infrastructure.

See project poster

Mid-term project update

Progress since September 2022:

  1. Helia baseline design is validated and parts are purchased.
  2. First tests of smoke detection have been made with videos and pictures of the local area.
  3. A Helia model (with reduced capability) out of the SecurIT development plan, has been manufactured to be exhibited in Cannes during the World AI Cannes Festival, allowing the team to perform preliminary integration tests.

Final project update

The Helia project is about a 100% made in EU tethered aerostat that can detect early wild fire autonomously based on AI on board. The work was mainly about the development of the payload. The latter is made up of an intelligent box and a gimbal.
First steps were to build an enclosure with a visible and a thermal camera controlled by a battery-powered processing board. These cameras and board running
an embedded AI process images in real-time, all day and night, and send alert when smokes/fires were detected. This system is very power efficient and datas are safe because after processing, if no alert occurs, images are not kept nor sended.
From that we gained the capability to acquire aerial images from Helia to train our AI and set up a deployment procedure.
Lastly we found a gimbal which our electronic board can control autonomously and which scans around the Helia platform by itself. We also managed to decrease the weight (<2kg) and use a 7m3 aerostat instead of the initially envisaged 11 m3, although the 11 m3 was built and always on stand-by.

We demonstrated Helia’s abilities in multiple events like I-Naval in Toulon, the SecurIT final demonstration in Pourrières (C2RD) or at the International Paris AirShow. Future prospects are in progress. Helia is on track to help fire-fighters in order to avoid other big fires.

Pictures of the final project demonstration

Project consortium

Allsopp Helikites Ltd.
Allsopp Helikites Ltd.
United Kingdom


Project presentation – pre-selection pitch-video