Entries with tag first responders.

Robots Assist Firefighters by Creating 3D Thermal Maps

University of California, San Diego, researchers created several new image processing techniques that enable robots to quickly create 3D thermal images of fires, which can assist rescuers. The Segway-like mobile robots created by the Coordinated Robotics Lab are equipped with an infrared camera and software that take thermal data captured as it moves through a burning structure, then maps it onto a 3D scene that it produces from a pair of stereo RGB cameras. This information creates a 3D map with temperature data the first responders can use instantly. Other sensors can gather information to determine factors such as the building’s structural integrity and whether gasses are present. The robot can also search for anyone trapped in the fire. The robot is designed to be used as part of a team of scouting robots for residential and commercial fires. Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department as well as from ATA Engineering, L-P3, and Brain Corporation collaborated on the project. The researchers plan to present their work at the 2014 International Conference on Robotics and Automation. (redOrbit)(University of California, San Diego, Jacobs School of Engineering) 

Wi-Fi Mesh Network Could Augment Mobile Phones in Emergencies

German researchers say wireless routers used in homes and offices could provide critical backup communications in emergencies in case a mobile-phone network fails. Technical University Darmstadt scientists  say because Wi-Fi routers are so commonly used, first responders could utilize them if cellular communication networks crash or are critically congested. The researchers surveyed Darmstadt and found 212 public routers that could easily be formed into a mesh network by first responders without compromising users’ privacy. They say city officials would have to design a mechanism that emergency workers could activate to provide access to Internet-based voice and data services via a Wi-Fi router’s “guest” node, a function that allows visitors to use a Wi-Fi network. The researchers published their work in the International Journal of Mobile Network Design and Innovation. (PhysOrg)(TechWorld)(Deutsche Welle)(AFP @ Securityweek)(International Journal of Mobile Network Design and Innovation)

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