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This AI-powered helmet can help firefighters 'see' through smoke to find victims: '[This] would be a massive advantage'

The design helps firefighters find teammates and victims, as well as identify dangerous conditions.

Firefighter wearing AI-powered helmet

Photo Credit: iStock

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service recently began trials of an AI firefighting helmet designed with the help of the U.K.'s National Robotarium, reports the World Economic Forum.

Inside a burning building or forest, loud noise and thick smoke make it difficult for firefighters to find their way and locate people. The World Economic Forum reports that some firefighters use thermal imaging — technology that senses changes in temperature and turns them into a visual image in real time — but the units occupy one of the user's hands, making other firefighting tasks harder. 

The new helmet puts the thermal imaging sensors — and more — right in front of a firefighter's eyes instead, leaving their hands free.

"To have this integrated within either a visor or a helmet would be a massive advantage," says Watch Commander Glynn MacAffer of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service. 

The design helps firefighters find other individuals and identify dangerous conditions. Future versions could even add a 3D map of the building to help the wearer navigate their surroundings.

Wildfires are becoming more common as rising temperatures increase drought conditions. Large natural disasters, including major fires, happen every 18 days on average in the U.S. 

Using modern technology to fight fires keeps both victims and firefighters safer. New technology means faster, more effective firefighting — saving lives and protecting property.

Euronews reports that the research team behind the device is eager to spread it internationally. 

"For now, we have all this proof of concept ready," says Chris Xiaoxuan Lu, a lecturer in Cyber-Physical Systems at the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics. "What is next is to find the right industry collaborators who are willing to work with us to make this technology really go to the market and benefit the global firefighters."

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