On a sinking ship, crews need to evacuate passengers quickly - but they may have to find them first. An innovative system based on EU-funded research may soon make this task a great deal easier. On vessels fitted with this system, teams will be able to locate passengers instantly, on board and in the water.
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The new system, based on wireless technology, keeps track of passengers in the event of a maritime disaster and provides an overview of the situation aboard ship. Bringing it to the market is the objective of Lynceus2Market, a consortium that set out in June 2015 to scale up the pilot applications developed by its predecessor project Lynceus.
A wide variety of partners, such as cruise ship owners and operators, ship builders, equipment manufacturers and research organisations, are cooperating in this three-year endeavour. Their collaboration focuses on developing a robust, cost-effective solution suitable for new and existing passenger ships.
Technology to the rescue
Their innovative wireless system is designed to speed up the evacuation of passengers from large ships, for example in the event of a collision or a fire. The sooner people can be located, the better the chances of getting to them in time.
A detailed understanding of the situation on board further improves the odds. In addition to smart life jackets, cabin key cards and electronic bracelets that it can trace, the system includes smoke detectors, as well as sensor nodes that monitor fires and flooding. A decision support module combines information on people’s whereabouts — secured by the smoke detectors, which double as base stations for the ship’s localisation network — with operational and disaster escalation data.
Smart life jackets, drones and more
Further products include handheld devices that facilitate the identification and counting of passengers during evacuation, and two technologies designed to help locate individuals that have gone overboard.
One of these solutions consists of lifeboat-mounted radar equipment that can be used to search the vicinity of the ship. The other involves unmanned aerial vehicles, which the partners are more specifically proposing for rescue operations at night, in extreme weather or in remote locations.