A tiny robot module that acts as an add-on for a small drone could allow for better search and rescue missions, helping law enforcement and first responders.
Search and rescue operations, especially in cases of natural disasters, calamities, fires and other hazardous instances, can be very difficult because it's often tough to find all victims in due time.
Hurricanes or earthquakes, for instance, can ravage entire areas and cause some serious damage in their way. Buildings crash, trapping people in the rubble, and search and rescue can be a huge challenge. It's crucial to find victims as soon as possible so they can receive the necessary care to survive, whenever possible, but it typically takes a while to find them.
One company based in California may be able to revolutionize the way search and rescue unfolds, helping law enforcement and first responders find victims quicker. Called IntelliNetSensors, this company developed a new drone add-on that can detect vital signs, thus helping find survivors in a pile of rubble in the aftermath of a disaster.
The robot module add-on can attach to any drone, enabling the gadget to fly above affected disaster areas and detect the heartbeat and the breathing pattern of survivors trapped underneath.
This intriguing module is called the Lynx6-A and it comes with a tiny HD camera and a specialized ultralight sensor. While the camera allows for an aerial view of the affected site, the sensor detects the vital signs of people who would otherwise be difficult to find.
"Lynx6-A is a miniaturized sensor that is attached to a small UAV to seek hiding individuals in hard-to-access areas including attics, rooms, or containers through an orifice or a crack," IntelliNetSensors explains. Detecting electromagnetic signals, the technology can even filter out a person's heartbeat and breathing pattern from the background noise.
IntelliNetSensors also worked on networking this solution so it can extend to wider efforts. More specifically, the Lynx6-A modules can use the company's patented Sense-Through-The-Air (STTA) technology to form a network, allowing rescuers to employ several Lynx-fitted drones and triangulate the vital signs of multiple survivors simultaneously.
Existing search and rescue (SAR) detection methods currently rely on radar-based techniques, which are not always highly accurate, and using search dogs. IntelliNetSensors wants to offer a more proficient solution by measuring the electromagnetic signal of the volume, as opposed to radar-based techniques.
The company notes that its Lynx family of STTA detectors can help in post-earthquake SAR operations, remotely sensing when people are hidden in a room or a cargo container, detecting unauthorized presence on sites, or detecting traffic underground.
These are just a few examples, but the potential applications for this technology hold great promise.
The Lynx6-A robot module is already available commercially and three countries have adopted the add-on for emergency services, but the gadget is not available worldwide at this point because some export restrictions limit global sales.
Approval for export should not take much longer, but IntelliNetSensors is not wasting any time until it gets the green light. According to a recent report from IBTimes UK, the company has been showcasing Lynx6-A modules attached to DJI Phantom Drones to agencies in California.
"We hope to be able to release results of the solution's performance in February 2016," Dr. Fred Mohamadi, founder and president of IntelliNetSensors, told the publication.