Firefighting Technology Roundup: Driverless Cars, Down Firefighter Transport, and More

By Mary Jane Dittmar


At the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last month consumers saw technologies from car manufacturers that included driverless automobiles and numerous safety features that would provide “a knowledgeable co-pilot for drivers.”

Audi’s “driverless” car is able to avert accidents and included cameras that sound alarms if a driver falls asleep on autopilot mode. The vehicle was being tested on Nevada highways during the show. The model featured at the Las Vegas show switches from manual driving to autopilot mode with the pressing of a button on the steering wheel.

Driverless cars have been approved in states such as California, but the federal government has not issued a definite rule on this technology.

Toyota was promoting safety technologies that alerted drivers to impending dangers such as when a child is about to run into the road, stopped traffic around the bend, or non-functioning traffic lights at an upcoming intersection.

Other new technologies contemplated include vehicles that recognize owners through biometric data and driverless cars that will park themselves in the most challenging spaces.

A spokesperson for Toyota’s North American operations noted that its goal is not a car that drives itself but one that makes available a “co-pilot with much more information to assist the driver.”

Audi’s driverless car, which can only be used during traffic congestion and parking, will be introduced within the next ten years, according to a spokesperson. The company is hoping to provide a completely driverless vehicle in the future. Cecilia Kang, Washington Post:”Technology” Newsletter, January 9, 2013


Motorola Solutions, Inc. has successfully completed all testing activities associated with Phase 3: Part One, with the Public Safety Communications Research Program (PSCR) at the Department of Commerce, Boulder Laboratories in Colorado. The testing, with Ericsson, successfully demonstrated the interoperability of the Radio Access Network (RAN) and Evolved Packet Core (EPC) with three major network vendors and represents a giant step toward Motorola’s becoming an authorized supplier to FirstNet, the nationwide public safety broadband network, the company explains. The tests demonstrated interoperability with other suppliers, a key component of building a nationwide public safety network.

Key Phase 3: Part One test facts include the following:

  • The testing was performed in the 700-MHz Band 14 spectrum, which supports broadband for public safety.
  • Motorola was able to support interoperability at S1-Mobility Management Entity (MME) and S1-User (U) interfaces using its RAN and EPC with the three network vendors, demonstrating Motorola’s solution to support open network architecture under the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) standards.
  • The completion of network drive testing demonstrated the performance of a single LTE network in an operational environment.Intra-LTE handoffs, network coverage, network load and stress, and application messaging/protocol performance were successfully tested.
  • The PSCR test team selected Motorola’s UM1000 LTE USB modem as the device of choice for all interoperability over-the-air and drive testing.
  • Motorola and Ericsson, in September 2010, entered an alliance to provide an LTE-based solution for Next Generation Public Safety broadband communications. Ericsson is providing its LTE access equipment as well as parts of its packet core and related services to deliver broadband multimedia services to public safety.


Three firefighters have developed the Rite Rescue Systems RAP (Remove and Protect), a device for transporting an unconscious firefighter. According to Thomas J. Fee, president of Rite Rescue Systems and a 15-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York, the RAP fills the gap for a transport device designed specifically for unconscious firefighters and has “passed and exceeded all testing requirements.” It is Underwriters Laboratories tested to National Fire Protection Association 1983, Standard on Life Safety Rope and Equipment for Emergency Services, 2012 edition, as a litter, a victim extrication device, and a Class III life safety harness.

Details of the RAP design and functions appear in “The RAP,” Technology Today, Fire Engineering, March 2013.

MARY JANE DITTMARMARY JANE DITTMAR is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.

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