ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – A University of New Mexico professor is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop a device to create three-dimensional images of canyons and washes in real-time.

The device would attach to airplanes deployed to fight fires. So far, one has been attached to aircraft.

UNM says the device’s infrared imaging system takes high-resolution photographs of the landscape, and then processes them into images that resemble three-dimensional models.

Those models help engineers and emergency crews decide where to reinforce slopes to prevent landslides, which can damage property, and in a worst-case scenario, threaten lives, in a fire’s aftermath.

Assistant professor Chris Lippett and his research group, GIScience for Environmental Management, have been working on the project with the Army Corp of Engineers and the New Mexico Wing Civil Air Patrol.