Scottish firefighters could be given smart-helmets using artificial intelligence aimed at helping them locate potential victims in low-visibility situations.
It would see thermal cameras and sensors mounted on standard issue helmets, with AI technology allowing firefighters to quickly map their surroundings.
Field trials have been carried out by the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service at its training facility in Edinburgh.
The technology is being developed by researchers at Heriot-Watt University’s National Robotarium.
It is hoped that the the innovation could assist firefighters and scene commanders to navigate dangerous conditions such as smoke-filled areas more safely.
Users of the technology would be provided with real-time information, with an aim to reduce the time it takes to rescue people.
The technology will be showcased as part of the official opening of the National Robotarium at the university on Wednesday.
Bryan Todd, group commander in training, safety and assurance at Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, underlined the importance of safety, teamwork and innovation in the service’s operations.
“We are proud that our staff at our Newbridge Training Centre have been able to support with the trialling of this technology,” said Todd.
“Safety, teamwork and innovation are three of our core values as a service and we always welcome opportunities to work in partnership with higher education organisations and the fantastic work they do in exploring ideas to improve community and firefighter safety.”
Dr Chris Lu, a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh who is leading the project, explained the technology could help firefighters to make crucial decisions during incidents.
“Firefighters often operate in environments with very low or no visibility due to the vast amount of smoke released from a fire,” said Lu.
“This can make detecting the location of potential victims and the whereabouts of firefighters very challenging in situations that are often extremely time-sensitive.
“This new technology has the potential to support on-the-ground firefighters and scene commanders to make crucial in-the-moment decisions that can enhance search rescue efficiency, ensure safer collaboration between teammates and, most importantly, improve outcomes for potential victims of fire scenes.”
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