Good Thinking

Squad positioning system helps fight fires and save lives

Squad positioning system helps fight fires and save lives
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Student designer Roy Hareguina's "Squad" is a compact indoor positioning system that enables fire fighters, even in dense smoke, to know their exact location and that of their colleagues at all times. Using a dual-mapping system, the tough polyetheretherketone (PEEK) units reduce the danger of separation and disorientation in high-rise buildings, and increase a fire fighter’s ability to save lives.

The Squad uses inbuilt sonar to continually scan the surrounding environment and provide an accurate mini-map for each individual user, even where the collapsing building may have blocked hallways and corridors.

A more traditional positioning system uses integrated repeaters to link the Squad units to each other and to an external command system. This accumulated data enables the command center to pinpoint each member of the team on a collective map, offer accurate direction via radio and overlay satellite images or building floor plans where available.

Not surprisingly, given their working conditions, the Squad units are extremely rugged. The PEEK thermoplastic has an extraordinary mechanical property, with a melting point of 662ºF (343ºC) and high chemical resistance. 7000-series aluminum (alloyed with zinc) provides an insert-molded rigid frame. An over-molding of fluorosilicone makes the unit waterproof and provides impact protection.

The Squad units are also ergonomically designed with bright, easy-to-read screens and a control switch designed for use by gloved hands.

Hareguina, from the University of New South Wales, Australia, was a finalist in 2009's Australian Design Awards - James Dyson Award.

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