As both manmade and natural disasters become increasingly lethal global phenomena (whether a terror attack or a hurricane), robotically controlled search-and- rescue systems fill in the “capability gaps” for first-responders in dangerous environments.

Mantaro Networks and Beeper Communications Israel have received a $900,000 grant from the Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research and Development (BIRD) Foundation to develop their Unmanned Search and Rescue System (USRS) for “distributed, decentralized command and control” of first-responder teams in the United States and Israel. The grant covers 18 months of funding.

The project will include the development of a high-bandwidth wireless broadcast infrastructure that can transfer large amounts of media-rich data (images, audio and video) between the robotic devices and first-responder teams over a large distance.

This will enable remote monitoring in real time, “removing first-responder personnel from harm’s way during uncertain and challenging situations,” explained Jeremy Parsons, CEO of Mantaro. Parsons added that this first milestone was reached in September.

The project also calls for the creation of a common operational picture (COP) so that all responding agencies can share data, thus eliminating many of the interoperability challenges that exist today.

In order to commercialize the project, the two companies entered into an agreement with Safety Dynamics in Arizona, which specializes in gunshot detection, camera and acoustic surveillance. Safety Dynamics’ technology will be incorporated into the USRS devices as part of the COP component.

Mantaro and Beeper will work with Safety Dynamics’ current customers in over 30 metropolitan areas in the United States, which include several police departments, to gain direct feedback. The Baltimore and Houston police departments have already expressed interest in testing the new technology.