Tech

Seeing Through Walls to Help Locate Firefighters Who Need Rescuing

Unique positioning techniques have been developed to identify firefighters in buildings where other positioning techniques have failed.

When deploying rescue teams inside a building, firefighters often face a rapidly changing environment hidden by smoke and flames. Navigating structures can be confusing, and if a firefighter is lost or injured, the rescuer can quickly become someone in need of help.

To mitigate these risks NASAJet Propulsion Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology (S & T) are developing POINTER (Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for Emergency Responder). This is a system that finds and tracks firefighters in structures when they endanger their lives to save their lives. Other. An abbreviation for Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Tracking for emergency responders, the system began to take shape in 2014 and is now mature for use by fire departments nationwide.

Greg Price, who heads the R & D program for S & T’s first responders, said: “We want them to know that we have their backs and that they are working to give them the tools they need to ensure their own safety. POINTER is one of those life-saving solutions. “


The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Department has developed POINTER in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is the first breakthrough responder tracking technology that uses a magnetic quasi-hydrostatic field to three-dimensionally identify responders in an emergency, especially in the event of poor visibility due to heavy smoke or debris. is. POINTER allows incident commands to identify team members within centimeters.Credit: Department of Homeland Security

Unlike positioning technologies such as GPS and RFID, POINTER does not use radio waves. Radio waves provide a reliable way to locate in a relatively large space, but they can be unpredictable if you go indoors or are surrounded by tall buildings. This can be a trivial annoyance when trying to find a planned location, but it can be a life-threatening situation when trying to find a firefighter in a burning building.

Magnetic quasi-hydrostatic field

POINTER removes its unpredictability by utilizing magnetic quasi-static (MQS) fields. The MQS electromagnetic field, a type of electromagnetic field, has been largely overlooked by researchers as a viable positioning tool due to its rapid descent as a function of distance.But JPL Senior research engineer Darmindra Arumugam creates a mathematical and technical framework that enables practical application by extending the scope of this technology using lower frequencies while ensuring accurate position data. Assisted.

“Most construction materials are easily penetrated by quasi-static magnetic fields, so these magnetic fields are not blocked or reflected by the materials found in most buildings,” said Arumugam, a senior researcher at POINTER. Stated.

“This is a very exciting technology and adds another dimension to firefighter situational awareness.”
— — POINTER Program Manager, Ed Chow

The MQS field is generated when low frequency alternating current passes through the coil. The electromagnetic field has both electrical and magnetic components, but at very low frequencies, the magnetic component of the MQS electromagnetic field dominates in the case of coil structures. In the quasi-static range, ranging from a few meters to a few thousand meters (determined by the frequency passing through the coil), the MQS magnetic field acts like a static magnetic field generated by the interior of the Earth. This is why this field is called “quasi-static”. Almost It is stationary or vibrating very slowly.

“This makes a big difference in how remote wave-based position detection works and is performed,” Arumugam added. “Radio waves are blocked, reflected, and attenuated by the metal, cement, and brick materials in the building, but magnetic quasi-electrostatic fields do not. They pass straight through the wall and navigate when no direct line of sight is available. And create a means of communication. “

This form of positioning technology can be applied extraterrestrial, Almgam added. MQS technology can fill the key technology gaps in navigation sensors for some NASA spacecraft projects and can be configured in longer ranges. Many of these robotic systems need to autonomously navigate difficult out-of-line environments and may require additional navigation capabilities. MQS fields include ice-penetrating robots, cave robots, and Underwater robot, If traditional navigation technology does not work well.

Practical realization

The POINTER system consists of three parts: a receiver, a transmitter, and a base station. Firefighters are currently wearing mobile phone-sized receivers, but are expected to be much smaller after further development. Transmitters that can connect to emergency vehicles outside the building generate MQS fields. This field moves through the building and, in current versions of the system, pings receivers within a range of approximately 230 feet (70 meters).

This range can be extended, but it is not needed for most firefighting applications. The receiver detects the field, locates it in 3D, and then sends the data back to the laptop (base station) outside the building.Visualization software shows where the firefighter is in 3D space Accuracy A few inches.

Not only does POINTER help the fire team find team members through the wall, but the MQS field can also orient the receiver. In other words, they can provide important information about whether first responders are standing or lying, moving or not moving, and in which direction they are facing.

POINTER receiver and transmitter

POINTER consists of a receiver, a transmitter, and a base station. Clockwise from left: The receiver prototype is worn by firefighters and communicates with a transmitter coil attached to a fire engine that has not been used for testing purposes. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / DHS ST

“This is a very exciting technology and adds another dimension to firefighters’ situational awareness,” said Ed Chow, JPL’s POINTER program manager. “Firefighters can track in real time, and if they become unresponsive, team members can see if they are trapped under debris or if they are injured and can start rescue.”

In a recent demonstration, POINTER was tested on the campus of the West Los Angeles Veterans Medical Center on a three-level 8,000-square-foot (750-square-meter) structure with an accuracy of less than one meter in three-dimensional space. The entire structure. Several POINTER devices have been evaluated by members of the Department of Homeland Security’s First Responder Resource Group and industry partner Balboa Geolocation Inc. to ensure they meet first responder requirements.

The POINTER team is currently planning to conduct a live webcast of tech demonstrations in a two-story single-family home in Pasadena, California, near the campus of the California Institute of Technology, which manages NASA’s JPL. Further field testing in various fire scenarios is planned until 2021, and a commercial version of POINTER will be available at the fire department in 2022.



Seeing Through Walls to Help Locate Firefighters Who Need Rescuing Source link Seeing Through Walls to Help Locate Firefighters Who Need Rescuing

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