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August 31, 2005

High-tech and Gadgets Help Katrina Rescue Efforts

Cutting-edge high-tech and search-and-rescue tools and gadgets are to be used to help the rescue efforts in the Hurricane Katrina disaster areas, like they did after catastrophes of the 9/11 terror attacks and the Asian tsunami.

Institute for Safety Security Rescue Technology director, and professor at the University of South Florida, Robin Murphy and her USF team are heading to New Orleans to link up with Louisiana State University's Fire Emergency Training Institute and put their tools to the test. The tool kit sounds like a laundry list for 21st-century tech:

* Pint-size robots that can move through crevices in a collapsed building to bring water, light and two-way communications to trapped survivors. Murphy's team tested such devices in the wreckage of New York's World Trade Center after the terror attacks.    

* Three-foot-long (1-meter-long) robot planes and helicopters that can survey the scene from above and send wireless video back to the team in the field.    

* Night-vision sensor systems that can throw a virtual spotlight on objects, producing crisp black-and-white imagery while leaving the scene in total darkness.    

* "Triage sensors" that can detect signs of life from 3 feet away, based on thermal imaging or even the smell of a survivor's faint breathing. "We've got the first prototype for that up and running, and the commercial versions come out at the end of September," Murphy said.

more | MSNBC

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