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Monday, November 28, 2022

Watch: Scottish academics design helmet with AI to assist firefighters

Durban – While everyone runs out of a burning building, it is a firefighters job to run inside.

Having equipment to help them navigate smoke and flame filled buildings and help locate victims faster, would make their lives and jobs easier.

A team from the National Robotarium in Edinburgh, Scotland has done just that.

Using artificial intelligence, the team created a device to navigate a smoke-filled environment, map their surroundings and rescue victims more quickly.

The helmet also consists of sensors, thermal cameras and radar technology.

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Chris Xiaoxuan Lu, Lecturer in Cyber-Physical Systems at the School of Informatics of the University of Edinburgh, said all firefighters are heroes, but this new equipment will give them superhero capabilities.

“It will definitely improve the safety for firefighters from multiple dimensions. We already talked about victim searching. We also talk about navigation together with all the sensor units,” he added.

“In the long run, we will try to investigate what is the most efficient communication manner between the frontline firefighters to the outside chief commanders, so that all the systems can be even more efficient,” Lu said.

The robotarium team collaborated with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service on the project and tested the design in their training facility.

Watch Commander Glen Macaffer said the new helmet helps them do in seconds, what they previously took minutes to do.

“Our equipment can at times be restrictive in terms of what we have to do for searching. Add in any heat, dark smoke – having a thermal image capacity helps us massively in terms of location of someone.

“We can scan a room a lot better. We can take five to ten seconds compared to probably a couple of minutes when we wouldn’t have that technology. So for us to have that would be a massive game changer,” Macaffer.

The device is made out of cheap components and weighs less than one kilo, which is good given the fact that firefighters already have to weather their bunker gear, SCBA [breathing apparatus], axe and a hose, if need be.

Lu said the proof of concept is ready and the team was now looking to take the technology to the global market.

“For now, we have this proof of concept ready. What is next is to find the right industry collaborators who are willing to work with us to make this technology really go to the market and benefit the global firefighters at a wider kind of audience”, said Lu.

IOL

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