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Mobile Rescue Operations Using LabVIEW and NI Vision

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"We developed an application with LabVIEW that controls the AR drone, acquires the images taken by its cameras, and processes the images with NI vision hardware to determine possible casualties trapped in areas only accessible by air."

- Jesús Bussión, TEMAI Ingenieros

The Challenge:
Developing tools for fast detection of casualties in earthquake and collapsed-building sites.

The Solution:
Using NI LabVIEW software and NI vision hardware to develop a mobile device and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for locating casualties in difficult–to-access areas.

Jesús Bussión - TEMAI Ingenieros
Roberto Bussión - TEMAI Ingenieros
Javier Relaño - TEMAI Ingenieros

After a catastrophe such as an earthquake, rescue teams are often working in or near inaccessible areas where people whose lives depend on fast intervention may be trapped. We developed the second-generator locator based on the needs of rescue teams to help them find casualties in rescue situations.

To meet these needs, we developed two systems: a mobile device called FIRST to help the rescuer locate casualties and determine their conditions, and a system based in a UAV to fly over inaccessible areas to detect possible trapped casualties.

Mobile Search Device

FIRST is a mobile device carried by the rescuer to locate trapped casualties or bodies and monitor the dangerous conditions in the collapsed building or disaster site (see Figure 1). The FIRST device is made of chemical sensors, heat cameras, visual cameras, highly sensitive microphones, and a backpack with a chemical processor and a CPU that processes the acquired signals and generates an alarm to the control center (see Figure 2).

We developed the application using LabVIEW algorithms to process the signals from the sensors to detect life signs in the inspected area (see Figure 3). It also generates alarms that inform the rescuer of these life signs and sends them to the control center.


During the last decade, the quadrotor has become the standard platform for microaerial vehicles in research and robotic projects. A quadrotor is a small, remote-controlled helicopter, normally 1 to 3 meters wide, propelled by four rotors distributed in rotation pairs in the “+” sign or the “x” framework. Each rotor is powered by an electric motor fed from a battery. A microcontroller and a range of sensors, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, and magnetometers, maintain the quadrotor’s stability.

The AR drone that connects to a computer via WiFi offers a series of useful sensors, such as accelerometers, gyroscopes, an altimeter for ultrasounds, and two video cameras: one looking up and one looking down (see Figure 4). These features have swung the balance to the AR drone, compared to other quadrotors of similar characteristics. The AR drone is an important tool for rescue teams when it comes to quickly locating casualties in disaster zones.

We developed an application with LabVIEW that controls the AR drone, acquires the images taken by its cameras, and processes the images with NI vision hardware to determine possible casualties trapped in areas only accessible by air.


All data recorded by the FIRST device and the AR drone is sent to the control center, which manages the teams so that they can rescue the trapped casualties and save as many lives as possible. All communication between the equipment is carried out via WiFi. The communication between the FIRST device, the computer that controls the AR drone, and the control center is at 5 GHz, while the communication between the computer and the AR drone is at 2.4 GHz (see Figure 5).

Low Cost, Fast Integration

The LabVIEW interface and fast integration of the various acquisition components, as well as the ability to implement communication protocols, made it possible for us to develop specific systems in areas that needed innovative technology at a low cost.

Author Information:
Jesús Bussión
TEMAI Ingenieros

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