Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Finding victims in post-disaster spaces

17.09.2004


When earthquakes strike, people often get trapped in buildings. Search and rescue teams can pinpoint some victims using sniffer dogs and sensors. But a new European system that takes pictures during or after a building collapse promises to save many more lives.



The ‘low-cost catastrophic event capturing system’ is the fruit of the IST Loccatec project. It comprises capturing devices (small, autonomous infrared cameras) and a portable central unit for the rescue teams. The cameras – pre-installed in a building – only record images when they detect a structural collapse. Nearby rescue teams can wirelessly download these images and even set up an audio-link with the devices. The priority is to find where people are and the best routes to reach them.

Early tests were done in 2002, in the Italian town of San Juliano De Pulia – scene of the terrible earthquake that killed many schoolchildren. “After the disaster, we placed our cameras inside several damaged buildings earmarked for demolition,” says Uberto Delprato, project coordinator. The resulting eight films, recorded during demolition, were used to fine-tune the system’s ability to trigger image-recording during a building collapse.


The software algorithms for this triggering mechanism are unique. They can identify building collapse through a significant change in monitored structural elements – such as a when a roof falls. Loccatec has applied for a European patent for this software, and the hardware that stores and wirelessly transmits images.

While the system is similar to a burglar alarm, there are differences. “A burglar alarm continuously watches for break-ins, but does little else,” notes Delprato. “Loccatec only starts recording after the onset of a building collapse. And these are not just standard cameras, because they include lots of software.” Also unique is the system’s ability to multihop, allowing one device to act as a network bridge to others.

The images are stored on a chip at one frame per second, a rate which increases when collapse is imminent. A typical installation would have four cameras for a meeting room and ten for an auditorium. The cameras are placed on naturally strong elements, such as pillars. It is the task of the system’s algorithms to decide what is impending disaster and what is just human movement.

Public buildings, especially schools and hospitals, would be the first market for Loccatec. Not so much because of the cost of installation, but the need for someone to be responsible for the system.

One challenge is convincing the public that these capture devices are not secret cameras. The project coordinator is reassuring: “No images are recorded unless there is a disaster detected. Moreover, the transmission of images to a central unit is protected by a password and special protocol.”

In late 2004, the project will test the prototype system in Greece, using shaking tables to mimic an earthquake. Says Delprato: “Commercialisation of the system is a distinct possibility, provided a company takes it up. Meanwhile, we are going for the patent and want to exploit the system as a group of project partners.’

He foresees other applications for a low-cost device with a triggering mechanism. It could be used to mitigate disasters in chemical plants or to detect a bridge collapse during a flood.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Metamolds: Molding a mold
20.08.2018 | Institute of Science and Technology Austria

nachricht Robots as Tools and Partners in Rehabilitation
17.08.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

There are currently great hopes for solid-state batteries. They contain no liquid parts that could leak or catch fire. For this reason, they do not require cooling and are considered to be much safer, more reliable, and longer lasting than traditional lithium-ion batteries. Jülich scientists have now introduced a new concept that allows currents up to ten times greater during charging and discharging than previously described in the literature. The improvement was achieved by a “clever” choice of materials with a focus on consistently good compatibility. All components were made from phosphate compounds, which are well matched both chemically and mechanically.

The low current is considered one of the biggest hurdles in the development of solid-state batteries. It is the reason why the batteries take a relatively long...

Im Focus: Color effects from transparent 3D-printed nanostructures

New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference

Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...

Im Focus: Unraveling the nature of 'whistlers' from space in the lab

A new study sheds light on how ultralow frequency radio waves and plasmas interact

Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...

Im Focus: New interactive machine learning tool makes car designs more aerodynamic

Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.

When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...

Im Focus: Robots as 'pump attendants': TU Graz develops robot-controlled rapid charging system for e-vehicles

Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.

Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

LaserForum 2018 deals with 3D production of components

17.08.2018 | Event News

Within reach of the Universe

08.08.2018 | Event News

A journey through the history of microscopy – new exhibition opens at the MDC

27.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A novel synthetic antibody enables conditional “protein knockdown” in vertebrates

20.08.2018 | Life Sciences

Metamolds: Molding a mold

20.08.2018 | Information Technology

It’s All in the Mix: Jülich Researchers are Developing Fast-Charging Solid-State Batteries

20.08.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>