Mantaro Networks, Inc. and Beeper Communications Israel have formally received funding from The BIRD Foundation, to support their development of Unmanned Search and Rescue Systems (USRS.) The joint project aims to fill in “capability gaps” for first responders, as identified by Homeland Security and supported by the National Technology Plan for Emergency Response to Catastrophic Incidents. Project USRS has been awarded $900K in funding over an 18 month time-frame.
“In an age where man-made and natural disasters have become global phenomena, it is important to integrate the various responders and their agencies, to minimize casualties and damage to infrastructure and private property. We .are very glad that BIRD is investing in our development efforts to support first responders and provide the next generation of technology to these men and women”, Moshe Levinson SVP, Beeper Communications
The companies state that a significant development of USRS will be the ability of autonomous operation of robotic unmanned devices and their cooperative action with First Responders, supported by broadband and resilient communication network. The project proposes new methods and algorithms for distributed-decentralised command and control of First responder teams and autonomous robots. The effective operation of autonomous robot will be enabled by communication infastructure setup by Beeper. The successful completion of this project will produce wireless broadband infrastructure - the means to transfer large amounts of data utilizing a full spectrum of communication frequences and optimisation algorithms. This high-bandwidth connectivity will enalbe easily exchange media-rich information with first responders teams at field and autonomous robots for remote monitroring of incident landscape in real time and FR progress status.
Technically USRS will create the most effective and detailed Common Operational Picture (COP) for the responding agencies. The data from the field will be accessible and shared amongst varied agencies and eliminate interoperability challenges that exist currently.
As of September 2017, the companies have already achieved an important milestone. The Mantaro UGV is now fully functional and operable using the Beeper cellular bonder as the only means of network communication. This is significant as the UGV can now be controlled and operated without the usual “line of site” requirements. In other words, the system can be operated and monitored from anywhere. “This is a real differentiator and advantage when thinking about the safety of a UGV operator”, States Jeremy Parsons, CEO Mantaro. “We have now proven an ability to use the bonder to send and receive rich, high bandwidth data to and from the UGV. This not only provides real time operational views and information from the field to the command center, but also allows operation of the UGV from anywhere, further removing first responder personnel from harms way during uncertain and challenging situations. It was one of the primary initial goals of the project and we have validated this function quickly.”
Additionally, the companies have entered into a commercial agreement with Safety Dynamics, Inc., an industry pioneer specializing in gunshot detection, camera and acoustic surveillance and other analytical sensory technology and warning systems. The company uses patented acoustic algorithms identifying the precise location with plus/minus 1 degree of accuracy. Alert and notification is delivered directly to the user within in less than 1 second of an event. The system immediately geo-locates the event and sends an alert to the user’s command center or Network Operations Center (NOC.).
USRS will work to incorporate this patented technology into the UGV platform for security and enhanced COP for the system. Currently Safety Dynamics technology has been deployed in over 30 metropolitan areas in the United States. Project USRS will work with existing customers through the testing phases of development in order to gain direct feedback from target end users such as Police Departments. Of the initial candidates, Baltimore and Houston PD’s have expressed interest in direct participation.
Dr. Eitan Yudilevich, Executive Director of the BIRD Foundation, said, “We congratulate Mantaro Networks and Beeper Communications for being selected, as part of the NextGen First Responders program which was established by the DHS and the Israel Ministry of Public Security to advance innovative technologies for First Responders through US-Israel collaborations."