These situational challenges are in addition to the technical difficulties involved in locating people in three dimensions to within one foot inside buildings--this level of accuracy is necessary to determine on which side of a wall someone is located or to find someone in a space filled with dense smoke. "WPI began work on this problem after the December 1999 Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire, which took the lives of six firefighters who could not find their way out of the building," notes David Cyganski, professor of electrical and computer engineering and co-leader of the WPI PPL team. "While we have made considerable progress and are nearing a commercial system, we have come to realize that this is a far more daunting task than we first understood."
Since the Worcester fire and with more than $4 million in funding from the U.S. Departments of Justice's National Institute of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Army, the WPI PPL team has developed a location and tracking system that uses advanced radio and radar technology in tandem with inertial navigation. Developed in close collaboration with the Worcester Fire Department and other members of the firefighting community, the system is designed to ultimately be able to locate a first responder in three dimensions with an accuracy of one foot and a range of 2,000 feet.
The system is designed to require no pre-installed infrastructure, to be integrated into firefighter turnout gear and fire trucks, and to provide information about the location of all firefighters and the paths they have taken on an easy-to-understand di
|Contact: Michael Dorsey|
Worcester Polytechnic Institute