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Firelidar enables first responders to see through glass and flame


September 23, 2005

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September 24, 2005 Tests on FireLidar, a new portable lidar (light detection and ranging) system developed by US Navy research, show it enables first responders the ability to see through glass and flame - a capability unavailable on the market today. The left side image was taken without FireLidar while the image on right shows a photo of a child in a firefighter outfit which is clearly visible through the glass and flame. This potentially life-saving technology has numerous military and peacetime search and rescue applications in that it enables the user to see through fire, smoke, glass (windows), water/steam, fog, and other similar environmental conditions.

RL Associates has released documentation showing that research funded by the US Navy has developed a product which allows fire fighters and first responders to see through glass and flame. RL Associates’ test results prove “FireLidar" a portable lidar (light detection and ranging) system, can deliver images in a flame environment and is capable of aiding in search and rescue operations - a capability currently unavailable in the market today.

"To demonstrate the technology," says Dr. Richard Billmers, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President for RL Associates, "we took photographs in our facilities with and without FireLidar. The differences are striking. Without FireLidar, we were unable to see any object beyond the flame. The photos clearly demonstrate that using FireLidar provides first responders with a definite advantage by allowing them to 'see through the flames'. We are very excited about the results-FireLidar will truly aid first responders in saving lives."

"As a former fire chief and co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, I am well aware of how critical this technology is to the men and women in the field," said Congressman Curt Weldon (R-Pa.). "Saving lives is the goal, and a technology such as this enhances the ability of our first responders and military to do so with decreased risk."

The patented FireLidar system developed in partnership with the Office of Naval Research is an eye-safe lidar system, which will actively scan a location and return range information on targets of interest such as victims and structural issues, such as downed wires creating a first responder hazard. A video display will provide real-time 3D feedback to the rescue team. With specialized patented technology, FireLidar's image cannot be obscured by thermal bloom and will reduce the impact of smoke and other particulate matter in the air. RL Associates states that research for the handheld version is already underway that may include thermal imaging capabilities and with the ultimate aim to be hands-free.

RL Associates, Inc. is a scientific research and development company that provides technology and product solutions in electro-optics. Specializing in laser radar systems and optical designs, the RL Associates, Inc. team offers expert services in mechanical engineering and design, finite element analysis, testing and prototyping.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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