The Department of Homeland Security and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have created a new radar system called Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response (FINDER) that can locate human victims trapped in rubble from more than 100 feet away, using only their heartbeats.
The technology for this new device is based on current tracking technology used by NASA’s Deep Space Network to monitor the locations of spacecraft. FINDER uses low-power microwave radar to detect heartbeats and breathing of humans trapped in rubble.
While rescue dogs go by smell and cannot distinguish between victims who are alive and dead, this radar can tell the difference between humans, animals and other types of movements in the wreckage. This means that FINDER will save rescuers valuable time and allow them to quickly save more living victims trapped in rubble after a disaster.
FINDER is also designed for easy transport, and can be operated by a single person during any weather conditions.
The future for FINDER is bright, beginning with its use in search-and-rescue missions this spring. The technology could also spread to stretchers and ambulances to monitor patient heartbeats, to biological research to distinguish between species, and even to NASA to monitor the health of astronauts in space.