Heartbeat-detecting technology developed by Nasa has been used to find four men trapped under huge piles of debris in Nepal.
The men were found using a device called FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response), which uses microwave-radar technology to detect heartbeats. The device was developed by Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as well as the Department for Homeland Security (DHS).
It works by sending a microwave signal that can reach through the rubble and detect the breathing of a human. People don’t need to be conscious to be picked up by it.
FINDER is based on technology originally developed to find life on other planets, and uses similar devices to locate spacecraft and explore new worlds. But Nasa also hopes that it can be used for humans in space, monitoring astronauts’ vital signs without needing wires.
The device is still in prototype, but two of them were sent to Nepal after the earthquake there on April 25. They were used to support search and rescue teams, and test how useful they will be in practical situations.