German researchers are working on a new way to find people buried under avalanche snow by using signals from their mobile telephone and Galileo, a new European satellite navigation system, through what they have nicknamed a digital avalanche rescue dog. The avalanche rescue navigator (ARN) is intended to overcome the problem that not everyone carries a transceiver:
“In the experience of rescue teams not everyone actually carries beacons,” says Wolfgang Inninger of the Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics IML. “However, nearly everyone has a cellphone. This is why we decided to enhance our automatic geolocation system that works with Galileo, the future European satellite navigation system.” To do so, two new components have been added to the ‘avalanche rescue navigator’ ARN: a cellphone location function and software that calculates the position of the buried victim on the basis of local measurements.
The system is meant to give rescuers a direction and distance to the victim. It sounds a promising idea, but still seems some years away from being ready. Until then it will have to be the tried and tested avalanche transceiver and some of the more innovative survival gear such as the Avalung and Avalanche Airbag System (ABS) that I’ve written about previously.
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