For first responders such as firefighters, accurate locational tracking has been identified as a critical need. In particular, knowing the exact location of individuals within an indoor structure (including the specific floor of a multi-floor building) during a search and rescue operation is vital to their safety. While GPS approaches are sufficient for many applications, it is impossible to use GPS to effectively locate people who are indoors or underground. Even in outdoor environments, there are situations for which GPS may be unavailable, such as dense urban areas where tall buildings or narrow streets can lead to “urban- canyon” phenomena.
The team Business Crescendo/SYSNAV proposes to develop an accurate, real-time geolocation and tracking solution for individuals in GPS-denied conditions, including indoor structures, without any pre- deployed infrastructure. The approach involves a robust but lightweight ankle-worn tracking device which utilizes magneto-inertial technology.
A notable challenge of using IMU (Inertial Measurement Unit) systems for navigation is that such systems suffer from accumulated error. Because the mathematical approach underlying IMU navigation (ie “dead reckoning”) relies on integrating acceleration with respect to time in order to calculate velocity and position, any measurement errors, however small, are accumulated over time, leading to “drift” which increases based on the distance traveled from the initial position.
This team will deliver a superior realtime 3D geolocation and tracking solution, through the combination of precise magneto-inertial sensors and sophisticated algorithms, which allow exceptional performance even in the absense of maps, beacons, and GPS – although the solution can opportunistically make use digital maps, GPS, or external beacons if they happen to be available.
The team has already demonstrated its ability to deliver such solutions. The team will build on its subject matter expertise and the past developments and will work collaboratively with WFCA and other experts to leverage their input, in order to bring the solution to the next level.
The overall projected solution, with its fit-for-purpose software user interface and its fast initialization procedure, will be designed with the first responder in mind. While sufficiently robust, the solution will be accurate, easy-to-use, and cost-effective.
In summary, the team believes that its geolocation and tracking system, especially with the improvements envisioned over the course of this FRST Challenge program, will provide a superior solution for the needs of first responders.