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Protection of Humans and Environment: Research Project State-Funded with Three Million Euros

Dark wads of smoke consisting of different gases and dust particles, as it is often the case with blazes, always disturbs residents.

Fire departments have handheld devices which help to determine the concentrations of the different gases, but they can only be used close to the ground. And columns of smoke which ascent to a height and travel for many kilometers over the land and come down far away from their point of origin, cannot be detected with the current technology.

To solve this problem, is the goal of the AirShield research program which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Last year this project was initiated by the Chair for Communication Networks of TU Dortmund which is also coordinating the project since the beginning of July 2008.

A swarm of wireless cross-linked unmanned aircrafts (UAV-Unmanned Arial Vehicles), equipped with state-of-the-art gas measuring technology, are supposed to measure gas clouds in the troposphere. The air routes of these flying measurment robots are dynamically determined and continuously adapted, so that the swarm can autonomously follow the pollutants. Thus, detailed forecasts about the spreading are possible. And these forecasts are made available to operational commands. Based on this data, danger averting measures can be planned, such as warning the population , informing them how to behave correctly up to evacuation measures in the most affected areas.

Three industrial partners (Gesellschaft für Gerätebau mbH, Dortmund; Microdrones, Kreuztal; GISConsult, Haltern), five science institutes (from Dortmund, Paderborn, Siegen, Berlin and Leipzig) and the Dortmund Fire Department are participating in the development of this innovative system. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with three million Euros within the scope of civilian safety research. In the strong competition with other research applications, the Airshield project was successfully nominated as one of the approved schemes from the announcement “Integrated Protection Systems for Rescue and Security Workers”. Project sponsor is the VDI Technologiezentrum, Düsseldorf.

The project coordinator professor Christian Wietfeld, head of the Chair for Communication Networks at TU Dortmund, is very optimistic that AirShield is going to become a big success: “The development of a highly dynamic, interconnected communication network in the air is a big scientific challenge which we are happy to accept. Here we rely on preparatory works which have also received credit in the international context”.

Hans-Jörg Hübner, managing director Gesellschaft für Gerätebau mbH, regards this project as a great opportunity to capture new markets: “Researching into small and light gas sensors for mobile use in the air, safeguards jobs in Dortmund”.

For Klaus Schäfer, chief fire director Dortmund Fire Department, this system means great improvements for the everyday work of fire departments: “The use of self-controlled small air vehicles opens up new chances to prognosticate the spreading of pollutants and to measure their concentration exactly. In the near future AirShield will help to protect humans and environment”. Moreover, areas damaged by flooding or fire, for example, can be observed and measured from above via autonomous drones.

Udo Jürß, CEO Microdrones GmbH, also expects the project to result in an advantage in technology: “The development of remote-controlled drones for civil purposes has just started. The AirShield project will take this versatile technology a big step forward. And we are not going to miss out on the new market which is going to be opened up by this technology”.

“AirShield” stands for “Airborne Remote Sensing for Hazard Inspection by Network Enabled Lightweight Drones”.

Participating in the AirShield project are the following partners:

•Technische Universität Dortmund, Chair for Communication Networks
•Microdrones GmbH, Kreuztal
•Fire Department Dortmund, Institute for Fire Fighting and Rescue Technology – IFR
•Universität Siegen, Chair for Real-Time Learning Systems (Prof. Dr.Ing. Klaus-Dieter Kuhnert)
•GISConsult GmbH, Haltern
•Universität Paderborn, Special Field C.I.K. (Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rainer Koch)
•GfG Gesellschaft für Gerätebau mbH, Dortmund
•Leibnitz Institute for Troposphere Research (Prof. Dr. Eberhard Renner), Leipzig

•TU Berlin, Chair for Innovation Economy (Prof. Dr. Knut Blind)

Two drone animations can be found under the following two links (right click on the link, then “save as …”):

Ole Luennemann | alfa
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