FINDER can detect heartbeats under debris

Service dogs and fiber-optic cameras may soon be not the only means of detecting people left under the rubble of destroyed buildings. The Science and Technology Directorate of the US Department of Homeland Security has teamed up with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to create a microwave radar system, which they named FINDER.

The new technology is able to detect a person's heartbeat under 9 meters of various debris. In addition, FINDER can “hear” the heartbeat through 6 meters of cast concrete or from a distance of 30 meters in open space. The radar has already been successfully tested at more than 65 test sites, where volunteers were hidden under debris of concrete, steel reinforcement and gravel.

Currently, the portable prototype consists of a search module, antenna, radar electronics, processor and user interface. Its battery lasts for 14 hours. The commercial version of FINDER is due out next spring.