NASA’s JPL and DHS develop tech to help locate firefighters inside burning buildings

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) have teamed up to produce technologies that will support locate firefighters inside structures. 

On Tuesday, the businesses declared the development of the Precision Outdoor and Indoor Navigation and Monitoring for Unexpected emergency Responders (POINTER) system, which was devised to assistance track down and keep track of firefighters inside of structures where by other positioning technologies are ineffective.


The concept was conceptualized in 2014 and the technology is now currently being matured for use all over the region, according to a NASA launch

Notably, POINTER uses magnetoquasistatic (MQS) fields as a substitute of radio waves.

Radiolocation, radio-frequency identification, acoustic sensors and GPS typically get rid of sign in line-of-sight denied environments, in accordance to S&T.

“This provides a important big difference to how distant wave-based mostly place sensing performs and performs,” JPL senior analysis technologist Darmindra Arumugam said. “Whereas radio waves grow to be blocked, reflected, and attenuated by the steel, cement, and brick products in buildings, magnetoquasistatic fields do not. They go straight via walls, creating a signifies to navigate and converse when direct line of sight is not accessible.”

MQS fields are electromagnetic fields that, whilst commonly disregarded thanks to fast drop-off as a operate of distance, have been ready to be nearly harnessed utilizing reduce frequencies.

They say that MQS fields will also have makes use of off of Earth, including lengthy-assortment know-how employed to work NASA area robotic tasks.

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The process is built of a few elements which includes a receiver, transmitter and base station.

The firefighter would have on the receiver and a transmitter that generates the MQS fields would be connected to crisis motor vehicles outside the house of the making and monitor any receivers located inside a making at a range of 230 toes or extra.

The data that will come back again is then sent to a base station, like a pc, and 3D visualization software demonstrates where the firefighter is, within just an precision of centimeters.

POINTER is composed of three parts: a receiver, transmitter, and base station. Clockwise from left: The receiver prototype is worn by firefighters and communicates with the transmitter coil, which was attached to an out-of-service firetruck for testing purposes. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DHS S&T

POINTER is composed of three elements: a receiver, transmitter, and foundation station. Clockwise from remaining: The receiver prototype is worn by firefighters and communicates with the transmitter coil, which was hooked up to an out-of-company firetruck for testing functions. Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/DHS S&ampT
(NASA/JPL-Caltech/DHS S&T)

POINTER can also ascertain whether or not a firefighter is standing up or lying down, even now transferring and in which way they experience.

S&T, JPL and industry partner Balboa Geolocation Inc. have labored with firefighters at Massachusetts’ Worcester Fireplace Division to take a look at the technique, and the staff designs to carry out even further demonstrations and a live stream of a take a look at later this year.

A commercial version of POINTER will be produced accessible to hearth departments by upcoming year.

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“Properly monitoring and locating first responders when they enter harmful environments has been the quantity one particular priority for the emergency response local community,” S&T initially responder portfolio supervisor Greg Price tag instructed Fox News in an e mail on Wednesday. “For the past ten years, firefighters have challenged business, academia and government to build a technology that can properly track and identify firefighters and other initially responders inside structures and structures.”

“This groundbreaking technological innovation will allow for downed, disoriented and trapped firefighters to be promptly found and extracted from harmful and potentially fatal environments they perform in,” he said. “Bottom line, POINTER will help you save life as it will get deployed and utilized by departments and businesses throughout the region.”

Yung A. Elizabeth

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