NASA’s latest invention, FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response) has saved four people who were trapped under the wreckage left from the recent earthquake which hit Nepal. FINDER has located the trapped persons using microwave radar which is able to sense and identify human heartbeats.
The device was developed by NASA in collaboration with the science and technology directorate of the U.S.A Homeland Security.
For now the device is at the prototype stage, but in the future NASA intends to make it commercial. NASA satellites will also provide data about the affected areas. Having the dimension of a bag, two of de devices were delivered in Nepal.
The radar is capable to track down human heartbeats and breathing 300 feet underneath debris, up to 20 feet of concrete and even 100 feet in open air. In addition the presence of human life can be sensed within the range of five feet. Using its satellites NASA also developed maps of the remotely damaged regions of the village of Chautara.
The technology of the device is provided with a remote-sensing radar developed in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory with the help of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate.
The FINDER beams microwave radar signals into areas where piles of wreckage and debris can be found. Afterwards the device analyzes the patterns of heartbeats and breathing signals which are sent back. With the new “locator” feature which was recently added to the device the FINDER does not only confirm the presence of heartbeats but it also gives the approximate location of the trapped persons within nearly five feet, depending on the type of debris.
The device is capable of making the difference between human heartbeats and the heartbeats of an animal. This is hugely important since it allows the rescuers to focus their efforts on saving people who are in danger instead of going for household pets which happen to be nearby.
The four men who were saved by the FINDER had been trapped for days under almost ten feet of bricks, mud and other rubbles.
Other companies have used the incident in Nepal as a way to test their developing technologies. For example Skycatch’s drones helped by surveying the damage in Nepal and also by taking high-resolution photos of the destruction.
The geomapping company DigitalGlobe offered free satellite imagery of the damaged areas in order for response and recovery groups to participate in crowdsourced efforts.
Image Source: TIME