MIT scientists develop algorithm to better locate missing people at sea

The ocean is a wild and turbulent space, where winds and weather kick up waves in all directions. These ever-changing conditions of both the waters and the weather make locating lost people and objects an incredibly difficult undertaking for first responders.

But this may soon change, thanks to researchers at MIT who have developed a new algorithm that takes stock of the ocean conditions to determine in real-time where missing items and people are likely to appear, which could give the efficiency of search and rescue operations a big boost.

The MIT team set out to develop an improved method by focusing on what it refers to as hidden “traps,” where the forces of the ocean are likely to converge along with people or objects being taken along for the ride. The new algorithm relies on advanced ocean modeling that can generate a predicted trajectory for where the missing object may have drifted.

Dubbed TRAPS (TRansient Attracting Profiles), the technique was tested in several field experiments where researchers deployed buoys and manikins in various locations in the ocean, to map out likely places where traps would appear, and then observing the paths via GPS.

“With the GPS trackers, we could see where everything was going, in real-time,” says Thomas Peacock, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “So we laid out this initial, widespread pattern of the drifters, and saw that, in the end, they converged on these traps.”

With the ocean reliably steering the drifting objects to locations predicted by the TRAPS algorithm, the team believes its new technology could be of great benefit to search and rescue teams, and now plans to share it with first responders.

Solution News Source

MIT scientists develop algorithm to better locate missing people at sea

The ocean is a wild and turbulent space, where winds and weather kick up waves in all directions. These ever-changing conditions of both the waters and the weather make locating lost people and objects an incredibly difficult undertaking for first responders.

But this may soon change, thanks to researchers at MIT who have developed a new algorithm that takes stock of the ocean conditions to determine in real-time where missing items and people are likely to appear, which could give the efficiency of search and rescue operations a big boost.

The MIT team set out to develop an improved method by focusing on what it refers to as hidden “traps,” where the forces of the ocean are likely to converge along with people or objects being taken along for the ride. The new algorithm relies on advanced ocean modeling that can generate a predicted trajectory for where the missing object may have drifted.

Dubbed TRAPS (TRansient Attracting Profiles), the technique was tested in several field experiments where researchers deployed buoys and manikins in various locations in the ocean, to map out likely places where traps would appear, and then observing the paths via GPS.

“With the GPS trackers, we could see where everything was going, in real-time,” says Thomas Peacock, professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. “So we laid out this initial, widespread pattern of the drifters, and saw that, in the end, they converged on these traps.”

With the ocean reliably steering the drifting objects to locations predicted by the TRAPS algorithm, the team believes its new technology could be of great benefit to search and rescue teams, and now plans to share it with first responders.

Solution News Source

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