Even 25 metres below ground, positioning system tracks firefighters

Jan 14, 2014
Firefighters test the positioning system 25 metres underground. Credit: Erik Groundstroem

With sensor-equipped footwear developed at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, firefighters can be even more effective at saving lives and property.

Fire, smoke and zero visibility – a firefighter's working environment is extreme. Now, with sensor-equipped footwear developed at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, firefighters can be even more effective at saving lives and property.

An innovative digital positioning system that uses sensors inside the heel of a boot makes it possible for emergency commanders to follow firefighters' movements independently of infrastructure, and even 25 metres below ground.

Behind the project are Peter Händel, Professor of Signal Processing, John-Olof Nilsson, a researcher at KTH, and Jouni Ranta Kokko, a KTH researcher and research leader at the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI).

The system they designed includes advanced sensors such as accelerometer and gyroscope, plus a processor. It can withstand shock and extremely high temperatures and remains operational where GPS positioning systems fail.

A wireless module worn on the shoulder sends the data to operational command. The precise information about responders' location and movements enables emergency coordinators to control operations remotely and ensure that the firefighters remain effective and safe under extremely dangerous conditions.

"When the firefighters can work safer and more efficiently, they can also save more lives," says Peter Händel, Professor of Signal Processing at KTH, one of those who worked on the development of the sensor shoe.

The system has been tested successfully with in real time, 25 metres below ground.

The positioning capability can also be used by others – such as police and military response forces, or medical services at major incidents. Even rescue work far below the ground, as in mines, can be facilitated by being able to position both workers and rescue teams without the need for extensive infrastructure.

The next step for the researchers is to make the sensors part of the sole, which would increase flexibility and open up more uses than when built into the heel. The idea is also that the sole will also generate its own power supply. The aim is also that the sole can be thin enough for use in ordinary shoes.

The research project on the management system is in collaboration with the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), Swedish rescue services and with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bangalore.

Explore further: Older firefighters may be more resilient to working in heat

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Older firefighters may be more resilient to working in heat

Jan 08, 2014

Older firefighters who are chronically exposed to heat stress on the job could be more heat resilient over time. A recent study published in the December issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene (JOEH) ...

New sensor system tracks firefighters where GPS fails

Dec 06, 2011

Firefighter Ray Hodgson hits the talk button on his walkie-talkie: "I have fire showing, possibility of a rescue on the third floor. Engine 35, initiate a rescue group. Also back him up with a hose line."

Simulating firefighting operations on a PC

Jan 03, 2012

Firefighters often put their lives at risk during operations, so it is essential they have reliable tools to help them do their job. Now, a modular simulation kit is set to help develop new information and ...

Recommended for you

First drone in Nevada test program crashes in demo

5 hours ago

A drone testing program in Nevada is off to a bumpy start after the first unmanned aircraft authorized to fly without Federal Aviation Administration supervision crashed during a ceremony in Boulder City.

Fully automated: Thousands of blood samples every hour

13 hours ago

Siemens is supplying automation technology for the longest and one of the most cutting-edge sample processing lines in any clinical laboratory. The line, or automation track, 200 meters long, in Marlborough, ...

Explainer: What is 4-D printing?

13 hours ago

Additive manufacturing – or 3D printing – is 30 years old this year. Today, it's found not just in industry but in households, as the price of 3D printers has fallen below US$1,000. Knowing you can p ...

First series production vehicle with software control

13 hours ago

Siemens has unveiled the first electric series production vehicle with the central electronics and software architecture RACE. This technology, developed in the research project of the same name, replaces ...

Amputee puts limb system through its paces

15 hours ago

"Amputee Makes History with APL's Modular Prosthetic Limb" is the headline from Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, where a team working on prosthetics observed a milestone when a double amputee showed ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.