Team Dhaksha in Building Collapse Site at Moulivakkam
Team Dhaksha from the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT) joined the rescue team to trace those trapped beneath the concrete debris by using a thermal camera at the building collapse site at Moulivakkam.
The camera, which was a part of an Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAV), was dismantled for this purpose, said Venkatesan, a masters student of Aero Space Engineering. “We’ve traced four people alive so far, but unfortunately one of them died minutes after being rescued,” said Kalaiselvan, one of the students, who looked tired after a tough day at work.
Thermal cameras can trace people from the heat released by the body. “Usually, we work after midnight when the temperature of the concrete blocks will be low. Humans can be traced with the camera when the surrounding temperature is low,” said the students.
Elaborating on how they operate the camera, Venkateshan said they have to get as close as possible and insert the camera through available holes. The camera can be rotated in different directions, and the thermal video scrutinised with a hand-held monitor.
Bodies of live persons would be highlighted in white and the colour fades as the temperature of an object is less. Dead persons can also be traced during the day when the temperature of concrete slabs are high. The rocks appear white with high temperature and the bodies will be black as there will be no heat in the body.
The camera can trace upto 50 metres when used to go below the surface, and upto 100 metres when used with UAV, added the students.
According to Dr.K. Senthil Kumar, head of the Aero Space Engineering Department of the institute, who guided the students, “We traced seven persons with the help of the camera, out of which four were alive. One died after rescue and two were recovered dead.”
After receiving a request from the State police for technical work, a team comprising research and masters students were assembled within two hours. “Initially, we planned and conducted an aerial survey using Quadcopter UAV to get a perspective of the collapse. We got a bird’s eye view image of the site and based on that we planned the efforts. We advised not to use heavy machines like earthmovers initially. We also took the help of our Civil Engineering Department to analyse the collapse. Their inputs helped us to plan accordingly,” he added.