Researchers Create Radar Sensor Technique That Helps to Track People at Disaster Spots

A Korean research team has created a system that can help firefighters save lives in the event of a fire, explosion, or collapse at an internal disaster site. Effective disaster response is expected to be possible if fast and safe lifesaving is supported.

Researchers from ETRI are giving on a demonstration that measure a victim’s vital sign by using two type of radar sensor (IR-UWB, FMCW). Image Credit: Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI).

The electronics and telecommunications research institute (ETRI) reported their intention to design a radar sensor-based live detection system, build a prototype for field adaption, and test it in a living lab.

Effectively rescuing victims in disaster sites caused by fires is difficult because many factors, such as darkness, fumes, and dust, restrict firefighters’ accessibility. Establishing the structure of the environment in the fire site is also difficult. 

As the permeability of radio waves can be used to assess the situation, the study team projected it would help save lives quickly and correctly while also ensuring the safety of firefighters.

To create a life-detection system, the research team built two kinds of radar sensor semiconductors.

For the first time, ETRI’s Impulse Radio Ultra-Wideband (IR-UWB*) radar sensor can detect centimeter (cm)-level motions utilizing reflected electromagnetic waves. As a result, it can detect vital signals such as the victim’s motion, breathing, and heartbeat that are difficult to notice with the naked eye.

The second is a radar sensor technology that uses high-precision frequency modulation continuous wave (FMCW*). It can identify a person hidden behind a wall or someone breathing but not moving after being buried by rubble. As a result, the accuracy of spotting alive persons has improved even further.

The system’s present dimensions are around 15 cm × 20 cm, but it is expected to be reduced in size in the future to allow firefighters to carry it more easily.

The research team intends to continue its efforts to adapt the sensor semiconductor-based lifesaving technology to disaster sites in the future, such as through promoting a simulation demonstration by partnering with firefighting-related organizations.

The goal is to save lives within the golden hour and to secure safe rescue mission of firefighters in a disaster environment. We will do our best to quickly apply this technology to disaster sites so that it can contribute to the national disaster and safety management system.

Bon-tae Koo, Principal Researcher, Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute

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