Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A team for an emergency

18.10.2011
Earthquaks, tsunamies, hurricanes – natural disasters always catch us by surprise, no matter how many early-warning systems are in place.

This makes it all the more important for rescue teams to get a quick overview of the situation at hand. In SENEKA, a Markets Beyond Tomorrow project, Fraunhofer researchers are working to network the various robots and sensor systems first responders use so that they can react more quickly and efficiently in the case of an emergency to search for victims and survivors.

The earth is shaking, buildings are collapsing, power and utility lines as well asroads are destroyed. A disaster can have many causes, but usually the outcome is the same: chaos, panic and dedicated but overtaxed first responders. The people lying buried under the rubble hold hopes for a speedy rescue, but sometimes it takes hours or even days to work through an entire area. To make matters worse, the work of rescue personnel can become extremely dangerous. Because every minute counts when the work of saving lives is concerned, robot-supported systems are increasingly used to accelerate search operations. According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), the rate of growth in the use of these helpers is expected to increase to 17 percent by 2013. The experience of the past several years also shows that the impact of special robots is very minor because individual devices and systems often cannot function with one another in the field.

In the „Sensor Network with Mobile Robots for Disaster Management“ project, Fraunhofer scientists from a variety of disciplines have teamed up to solve this problem and develop a system that can effectively network all kinds of robots and sensors with one another. The team includes the Fraunhofer Institutes for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation IOSB in Karlsruhe, for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart; for Intelligent Analysis and Information Systems in Sankt Augustin, for Integrated Circuits IIS in Erlangen and for Physical Measurement Techniques IPM in Freiburg. Also involved in the project, advising the researchers and as potential end customers, are the Technisches Hilfswerk (THW, the German federal disaster relief organization) and the fire departments of Berlin and Mannheim.

A mosaic of information
After disaster strikes, first responders must first get an overview of the area involved. Existing maps and data are useful, but only up to a point if there are no more buildings standing and roads have been blocked or destroyed. The helpers have to reorient themselves, and the only way to accomplish this is with the aid of technical equipment.

Even in this reconnaissance phase of the mission, networking plays a role. „To help people, we have to find them first. To accomplish this, we use ground-based units, airborne robots and other autonomous sensors that fan out across a broad area to gather a large volume of relevant data in a short period of time,“ explains project coordinator Helge-Björn Kuntzee of Fraunhofer IOSB. These sensors make use of radar and laser scanners as well as optical cameras. Specially developed multi-source SLAM algorithms have the capability of generating a current 2D/3D map of the landscape using data drawn from disparate sources. For instance, these algorithms can combine low-resolution images taken from the air with close-ups of destroyed areas taken at ground level. Using these images, responders can more quickly identify dangerous areas and the sources of damage. This gives them a better appreciation of the overall situation. Researchers are also working to develop autonomous sensors and multisensor probes that do not operate visually but respond to odors or sounds instead. For instance, these sensors are quicker at leading rescue teams to people trapped beneath the rubble who are banging to try to attract attention to themselves. Chemical sensors are particularly important to rescue personnel because they can signal the presence of gases.

A question of coordination
Once potential victims and have been located, the second step consists of mission planning. For this stage, the scientists want to create a system design to provide dynamic networking of all team members. People and robots need to be coordinated – to ensure that the right tools make it to the right location, for instance. This must be possible on an „as-needed“ basis, even if the surroundings change – due to collapsing buildings or aftershocks. Still, robots should be able to find their way through the rubble, usually without collisions. „The network must be robust but flexible at the same time, and dynamically modifiable. Circumstances can change very quickly in danger zones,“ Helge-Björn Kuntzee explains of the high demands involved. To keep all responders linked despite extreme conditions, the scientists are developing their own protocol technologies combining conventional WLAN technology with standards of their own.

SENEKA is designed to quickly deploy technological innovations in practical situations. The robots and systems should be simple to operate and combine. The network is undergoing testing in emergency exercises by fire department personnel. The researchers hope that reliable teamwork between man and machine will make it possible to save more lives in the future.

SENEKA is one of seven „Markets Beyond Tomorrow“ projects. In these researchers are working to find solutions to the pressing problems of the future.

Dr.-Ing. Helge-Björn Kuntze | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.fraunhofer.de/en/press/research-news/2010-2011/22/A-team-for-an-emergency.jsp

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Quantum computers by AQT and University of Innsbruck leverage Cirq for quantum algorithm development
16.09.2019 | Universität Innsbruck

nachricht Artificial Intelligence speeds up photodynamics simulations
12.09.2019 | University of Vienna

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Happy hour for time-resolved crystallography

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Hamburg and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) outstation in the city have developed a new method to watch biomolecules at work. This method dramatically simplifies starting enzymatic reactions by mixing a cocktail of small amounts of liquids with protein crystals. Determination of the protein structures at different times after mixing can be assembled into a time-lapse sequence that shows the molecular foundations of biology.

The functions of biomolecules are determined by their motions and structural changes. Yet it is a formidable challenge to understand these dynamic motions.

Im Focus: Modular OLED light strips

At the International Symposium on Automotive Lighting 2019 (ISAL) in Darmstadt from September 23 to 25, 2019, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, will present OLED light strips of any length with additional functionalities for the first time at booth no. 37.

Almost everyone is familiar with light strips for interior design. LED strips are available by the metre in DIY stores around the corner and are just as often...

Im Focus: Tomorrow´s coolants of choice

Scientists assess the potential of magnetic-cooling materials

Later during this century, around 2060, a paradigm shift in global energy consumption is expected: we will spend more energy for cooling than for heating....

Im Focus: The working of a molecular string phone

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.

This time-lapse sequence of structures reveals dynamic motions as a fundamental element in the molecular foundations of biology.

Im Focus: Milestones on the Way to the Nuclear Clock

Two research teams have succeeded simultaneously in measuring the long-sought Thorium nuclear transition, which enables extremely precise nuclear clocks. TU Wien (Vienna) is part of both teams.

If you want to build the most accurate clock in the world, you need something that "ticks" very fast and extremely precise. In an atomic clock, electrons are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Society 5.0: putting humans at the heart of digitalisation

10.09.2019 | Event News

Interspeech 2019 conference: Alexa and Siri in Graz

04.09.2019 | Event News

AI for Laser Technology Conference: optimizing the use of lasers with artificial intelligence

29.08.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stroke patients relearning how to walk with peculiar shoe

18.09.2019 | Innovative Products

Statistical inference to mimic the operating manner of highly-experienced crystallographer

18.09.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists' design discovery doubles conductivity of indium oxide transparent coatings

18.09.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>