This post is also available in: heעברית (Hebrew)

The various teams of first responders and their agencies play a major role in coping with natural and human-made disasters, and they need the most advanced systems in order to minimize casualties and damage to infrastructure and private property.

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.

According to their announcement, Project USRS has been awarded $900K in funding over an 18 month time-frame.

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 infrastructure 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 frequencies and optimisation algorithms. This high-bandwidth connectivity will enable easily exchange media-rich information with first responders teams at field and autonomous robots for remote monitoring 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.

Following the achievement of an important milestone by the companies in September 2017, 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 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.

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.