The radar warning and information system (RAWIS), which is intended for civil protection applications and will support emergency teams engaged in complex mission contexts, is being designed and constructed in a consortium comprising eight partners.

Allocation of the partners and tasks in the joint projects RAWIS.
© Fraunhofer FHR

Allocation of the partners and tasks in the joint projects RAWIS.

Modern and compact MIMO radar systems such as MIRA-CLE Ka can offer valuable support to rescue teams in disaster-stricken areas.
© Bellhäuser

Modern and compact MIMO radar systems such as MIRA-CLE Ka can offer valuable support to rescue teams in disaster-stricken areas.

Application scenario

Unstable piles of debris, remnants of buildings in danger of collapsing, damaged walls and partly demolished buildings create dangerous situations for the rescue teams during complex missions. Members of the rescue team may themselves be struck by or buried under a collapsing wall. The personnel is constantly confronted with changing degrees of danger when removing debris and rubble in the search for injured and buries persons. Stable debris may quickly become unstable and collapse.

With a view to enhancing safety in such complex locations, Fraunhofer FHR and seven other consortium partners, are building a radar warning and information system (RAWIS) that is specifically intended for civil protection applications. The RAWIS project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research within the framework of the »Research for Civil Safety« program as part of the topic »Protection and Rescue in complex missions«. This initiative aims to develop a radar system that continuously monitors the deployment area irrespective of rain, fog, dust and smoke and warns the rescue team prior to the collapse of debris, destroyed buildings and damaged infrastructure.

Radar system

The overall radar system comprises a main radar system on the basis of the MIMO principle, which continuously and seamlessly monitors the entire deployment area from a central point, and additional support radars that monitor dangerous areas that cannot be seen, such as the rears of buildings, on a point-by-point basis. The overall system is supplemented with active RFIDs that are attached to the clothing of rescue personnel and monitor the personnel’s spatial position, thus allowing a targeted alarm to be raised whenever necessary. If a warning is issued for an area that is liable to collapse, rescue work can continue elsewhere. RAWIS greatly enhances the safety and the efficiency of rescue operations.

The main radar system will comprise a stationary radar system in accordance with the MIMO principle. This system will have imaging functionality and will be capable of detecting minimal changes in the respective observation area. The system should be portable and quickly deployable as gaining a quick overview of the situation can be of great importance in complex deployment areas. The MIMO principle drastically reduces the costs of the imaging system as no real and fully populated antenna arrays are necessary as is the case with the existing, cost-intensive imaging radar systems. Added to this, no mechanical components are used with the result that maintenance costs can also be significantly reduced. The updating frequency of the displayed information is limited exclusively by the capacity of the computer that is being used and hence, very high update rates, which are quite unusual for an industrial system, will be possible.

The supporting radars are small, battery-operated, low-cost systems that form a sensor network. They will be positioned in dangerous locations that can not be monitored by the main radar due to the fact that they are in shaded areas. The support radars will be able to detect the smallest of movements in these narrow and localized monitoring areas. In the event that it is too dangerous to retrieve some of the supporting radars on completion of the rescue mission, these can be left on site as the system costs are so low that this will not lead to a significant economic loss.

Joint project

In addition to Fraunhofer FHR, which is designing and constructing the main radar and the supporting radars, the consortium also comprises the Federal Technical Relief Agency THW, the University of Siegen, the Ruhr University in Bochum and the company indurad, as well as the Federal City of Bonn and the companies Elettronica and unival as associated partners.

The projects will run over three years and end with a demonstration of the overall system on one of the training grounds of THW at the end of 2017.