According tomedia, the ocean can be an extremely desolate place, making the search for missing persons and objects a difficult task for first responders. In response, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed a new algorithm that can assess ocean conditions and determine the location of missing objects and people in real time, which could greatly improve the efficiency of search and rescue operations.
Currently, search and rescue teams rely primarily on marine dynamics models and weather forecasts to identify the areas of the most needed attention. But this is far from a perfect strategy, because the unpredictability of ocean currents often leads to actual searches along a different route than originally expected.
To solve this problem, MIT’s team set out to develop an improved approach that focuses on so-called “hidden traps”, where ocean forces are likely to converge as humans or objects move.
It is understood that the new algorithm developed by the team relies on advanced ocean modeling technology, which combines ocean velocity snapshots driven by waves and ocean currents, and then mathematically models generate a predictive trajectory for the missing target’s possible floating locations, which are updated themselves as more and more ocean velocity snapshots are entered.
The technique is called TRAPS (full name TRansi Attractenting Profiles). To study how to accurately identify hot spots of force, the researchers conducted a series of experiments at sea involving the deployment of a set of buoys and mannequins, running modeling systems to map possible traps, and then observing the path of free-floating objects through GPS.
“With GPS trackers, we can see where everything is going in real time,” says Thomas Peacock, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. We designed patterns that were initially widely distributed by these drifters and found that they eventually gathered on these traps. “
The team believes that the new technology will benefit search and rescue teams by reliably guiding floating objects to the locationpredicted by the TRAPS algorithm by the ocean, and now plans to share the technology with first responders.
The study was published in Nature Communications.