How to locate trapped victims in urban search & rescue with XeThru sensors
Each year, innocent human lives are lost in rubble or collapsed structures as a consequence of both natural and man-made disasters. In all cases, the sooner a living victim is located, the greater is the chance for survival. While speed is critical in locating victims, so is the reliability of the method of location. Chances for survival decreases while rescue workers fruitlessly are digging in the wrong place. There is a need for a fast safe, and highly reliable device for early detection and positioning of trapped victims. Such a device should be cost effective, handheld and easy to use. In our mind the unique features of the XeThru technology opens up for developing a unique lifesaving rescue product which can fulfill the critical needs mentioned above. Exploration of Search And Rescue (SAR) as an application area was also one of the underlying reasons when Cinside, in partnership with Norwegian company Novelda and the Swedish Defense Research Agency (FOI), applied for R&D funding of HumanFinder through the Eurostars program. Humanfinder is a unique low cost, easy to use, portable, and power efficient device that could locate and classify humans in SAR-operations. The main goal was to develop a device as an aid to rescue teams trying to locate trapped victims in urban SAR operations. The HumanFinder is a sensor, incorporating a XeThru transceiver, capable of detecting and determine the position of trapped victims. We have set some requirements to the actual product as we envision the product as a handheld, portable unit that is easy to use in stressed situations. The overall research challenge in this project lied in realizing the detection and positioning functions in a compact and cost effective solution. This required new antenna solutions, improved radar electronics combined with advanced signal processing. Xethru provisioned a potential, but HumanFinder also require some high quality supporting hardware in order to achieve the intended performance. The final product will contain a phased array multi-layer patch antenna, developed by FOI, with one XeThru chip per antenna element. The product integration is conducted by Cinside, which also will be the distributor of the final sensor. By integrating this state-of-the-art technology, the HumanFinder sensor will have an electronically positioned radar beam enabling the system to rapidly report an angle and a distance to the target. The market potential is tremendous. Authorities all over the world would benefit from a device like HumanFinder. In every city, there are fire brigades that should be equipped with at least one such device per fire truck. There are also other professions that would benefit from this product, such as law enforcement and security personnel for see-through-wall and surveillance applications. There is for example an expressed need for 24/7 area surveillance for critical infrastructure protection.