Researchers develop radar sensor-based system to detect biological signals at disaster sites

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[Courtesy of the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute]

SEOUL – South Korean researchers have developed a radar sensor-based life detection system that can help firefighters and rescuers find biological signals such as breathing and heartbeats at fire sites and disaster filled with smoke or dust by overcoming visual limitations. The system can be realized in the form of helmets or wearable devices to allow quick and safe rescue.

The system now measures around 15cm x 20cm, and the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) said developers will try to miniaturize a prototype through demonstration testing.

Disaster sites limit the vision of firefighters due to darkness, smoke dust and their unknown structure which hinder the efficiency of rescue operations. Researchers used the transmission performance of radio waves to understand the situation behind obstacles at disaster sites and the existence of victims.

“The goal is to save lives in the Golden Time in a disaster environment and to help firefighters rescue safely,” said Koo Bon-tae, ETRI Senior Researcher at ETRI, in a press release on February 3. “We will make efforts to quickly apply this technology to disaster sites so that it can contribute to the national disaster management and security system.”

ETRI researchers have developed two types of radar sensor semiconductors, including a radio pulse ultra-wideband (IR-UWB) radar sensor that can detect biological signals using reflected electromagnetics. The IR-UWB radar sensor sends and receives signals reflected from objects. It is extremely precise and consumes little electricity. The received signal contains information about static objects.

The other is based on frequency modulated continuous wave (FMCW) radar sensor technology. People who fall behind the wall or are buried in collapsed debris and breathe without moving can be detected.

Radar systems measure time of flight from when a transmitted signal leaves the radar, hits a reflective target, and returns to the radar. The frequency of the transmitted signal varies continuously at a known rate over a set period of time while the reflected frequency signal is compared. The difference between the transmitted and reflected signals is directly proportional to the time of flight, which in turn is proportional to the range.


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