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Meet AUDREY, the NASA-Developed Artificial Intelligence System that Could Save Firefighters' Lives

Sep 11, 2016 06:40 AM EDT
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When you're a firefighter, your life is always on the brink of danger. Now, NASA has developed an artificial intelligence system called AUDREY that could help save the lives of firefighters by nagivating them in smoke-filled burning establishments.

Meet AUDREY (Assistant for Understanding Data through Reasoning, Extraction, and sYnthesis), an artificial intelligence system being developed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. According to a report from Smithsonian, AUDREY is a technology that tracks the firefighters movements and guides them to safety during rescue.

The technology originated from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's work on space rovers kused on Mars. Now, together with the Department of Homeland Security, the same AI will be used to save the lives of firefighters, NASA reports.

History has proven that a lot of firefighters have lost their lives from getting lost in burning establishments. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recalls, in a CDC report, that in December 1999, six firefighters died after getting lost in a "six-floor, maze-like, cold-storage and warehouse building" during a search and rescue operation for two homeless people, who started the fire on the building's second floor and then left the building.

The AUDREY system aims to eliminate tragic incidents like this. Edward Chow, program manager for AUDREY, explains that during a fire, firefighters sometimes lose orientation and can't see where they are going , and this is where the new AI system comes into play.

But what makes AUDREY different from traditional AIs? Chow explains that because AUDREY was originally developed for space rovers, AUDREY is created not only to navigate firefighters but actually has "human-like intelligence" that can adapt to different situations.

While firefighters are in a burning property, they can communicate with AUDREY and other firefighters. AUDREY will then build a map of the terrain, showing firefighters warnings and directions to guide them to safety.

"Every fire firefighters respond to is different from the previous fire. No two fires are identical. So traditional artificial intelligence won’t work," said Chow.

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