Coming soon, a Gizmo to revolutionize disaster response

December 18th, 2007 - 12:56 pm ICT by admin  

Washington , Dec 18 (ANI): A device that looks like a cross between a remote-controlled toy truck and a lunar landing vehicle may make all the difference when it comes to saving lives during natural or manmade disasters.

The device, called Gizmo, is an advanced mobile wireless communications device developed by Javier Rodriguez Molina, an electrical engineering graduate student and programmer analyst at University of California , San Diego s California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), one of the most advanced, interdisciplinary research institutes in the world.

Eventually, it may alter disaster response by collecting and transmitting in real time any information that emergency personnel, police and firefighters need through any communications system they’re using.

In almost any emergency, the most important thing is immediate, accurate information, said Rodriguez.

He added: Gizmo will eventually be able to go anywhere on its own and send back in real time whatever information you might need.”

Rodriguez plans to make a number of varieties of Gizmos from the Circuits Lab at Calit2, even one that flies.

Such devices may reach anywhere which can be too dangerous for humans, including urban emergencies such as hostage situations, terrorist attacks or a building collapse.

Currently, the size of the Gizmo is that of a remote-controlled toy truck. However, future models may be comparatively much smaller (so they could enter a hostage situation without being detected), or much bigger, such as a full sized truck, which could break in disaster situations even in the most severe conditions, such as a hurricane.

“Using technology to try to save lives is the most important thing for me now,” said Rodriguez.

He added: “I’m taking part in work that can make people more secure by helping police, helping firefighters, helping anybody who is responding to a dangerous situation.”

Rodriguez is working under Ramesh Rao, an internationally recognized expert in emergency technology and director of the UC San Diego division of Calit2,

Under the guidance of Rao, Rodriguez is guiding a team of engineering undergraduates who are building Gizmos, which create their own wireless network bubble wherever they go.

A single Gizmo can create a wireless network 200 meters in diameter and several working in tandem can create an exponentially larger network.

The main task of Calit2 is to apply the most advanced technology to real-world problems, and produce solutions that people can actually use.

As the biggest problems for responders in any emergency situation is losing communications with each other and not knowing what’s going on inside a dangerous area.

Thus, Rodriguez and his colleagues aimed at building Gizmo which could collect accurate information in emergency situations and pass it back to responders immediately using whatever communications system is operating.

The data collected by Gizmos can be sent back via wireless network connection to virtually anywhere, whether it’s a police command station a block away or a research laboratory on the other side of the world.

These Gizmos can be controlled by cell phone, laptop or a gaming joystick hooked to a computer. The platform on each Gizmo can be mounted with any kind of device - high definition cameras; super sensitive microphones; sensors that detect dangerous gases, radiation or high heat levels; or a remote controlled arm that can collect samples.

That information can then be sent to any communications device - cell phones, lap tops, Bluetooth, or whatever type of wireless transmitter emergency personnel are using.

However, if one communications system fails, emergency personnel can switch to another. Gizmo can send information through walls or other obstructions, just like any wireless Internet system,

Another objective for Rodriguez was to ensure that Gizmo is relatively cheap (under 1,000dollars). Thus, it was constructed with many easy-to-replace parts so that they can be mass produced.

In this way, it was affordable to almost any police, fire and other emergency agencies. If one Gizmo is destroyed in the line of duty, it can be easily replaced.

For now, Gizmos are wheeled vehicles, but Rodriguez and his colleagues already are building one with tank treads so it can go up stairs or over curbs and rocks.

There are immense opportunities for Gizmo. Rodriguez hopes to use them at delicate archeological ruins, underground cave-ins or even for routine security patrols.

“People see Gizmo and immediately think of a new idea for what it can do. I’m sure it has important uses that we haven’t even thought of yet,” he said. (ANI)

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