Australian defence researchers are working on technology that does for stranded/wounded soldiers what ‘black box’ flight recorder systems help do for stricken aircraft.
The device they’re developing – nicknamed a ‘fight’ recorder – would record battlefield data and transmit emergency signals. AU$700,000 in Australian Department of Defence funding should now help Myriot, a telecommunications start-up, and wearable tech producer IMeasureU bring their new technology to the operational front-line.
‘Black boxes’ have been an aircraft safety staple for decades. Generally not black at all – most are painted orange – their performance data-recording capability makes them essential air accident investigation tools. Providing information relating to an aircraft’s height, speed, heading, etc, flight data recorders play a vital role, as do the other emergency equipment devices carried: automatic distress beacons. These supply a location transmission signal, much like flares.
Myriot and IMeasureU’s ‘Fight Recorders’ are essentially a flight data recorder and automatic distress beacon rolled into one. Designed for individual warfighters, they would both record and transmit locational data.
This kind of battlefield technology could be literally life-saving. For wounded troops, the first 60 minutes, post-injury, is the infamous ‘golden hour.’ Medical intervention during this period drastically improves the chance of survival, if not full recovery. Being able to rapidly locate injured troops, via personal distress beacons, could really raise the golden hour treatment success rate.
There’s also the prospect of recording battlefield performance and ensuring personal armour states and weapons availability are where they should be. Beyond the battlefield, civilian applications are foreseen for this technology too, including within law enforcement.
Battlefield Casualty Survival
"Survival rates for battlefield casualties are closely tied to response times and the Fight Recorder will enable Defence to quickly locate and treat casualties”, explains Christopher Pyne MP, the Australian Minister for Defence Industry. “In addition to serving as a location beacon, the data captured by the Flight Recorder could be used to inform the design and performance of soldier equipment and protective wear."
“Defence will work closely with these companies [Myriot and IMeasureU] to help deliver this world-first innovation”, he concludes.
Royal Australian Regiment troops image copyright US Marines – courtesy Wikimedia Commons