Radar-Equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Search and Rescue in Collapsed Buildings

Radar-Equipped Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for Search and Rescue in Collapsed Buildings


  • Shuai Li, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
December 7, 2017 - 9:00am to 10:00am


Natural disasters in the United States from 1900 to 2016 have caused 44,195 fatalities. Recent USGS calculations reveal that there is a 99.7% chance a magnitude 6.7 earthquake or larger will strike California at any time in the next 30 years. Americans in 38 other states face similar significant risks from earthquakes. When destructive events such as earthquakes and blasts occur, victims often survive in void spaces that are formed naturally in collapsed buildings. The void spaces are covered by rubble that is often unstable, difficult to traverse, and dangerous for both victims and rescuers. In addition, seeing through the heterogeneous materials overlaying victims is challenging and hinders rapid and efficient search and rescue operations. The lack of reliable information leads to false alarms and results in victims not being found. Furthermore, not being able to sense the invisible, complex, and hazardous environment on disaster sites, rescuers may inadvertently trigger collapses and/or fall into holes, jeopardizing their and victims’ lives. The unguided search and rescue operations turn rescuers into victims, and victims into deaths. In the presentation, the challenges of penetrating the unstructured occlusions in disaster will be illustrated, the framework of a new UAV-borne imaging and radar system designed for penetrating occlusions will be introduced, and preliminary studies and results will be elaborated.

Additional Information 

About the Speaker:

Dr. Shuai Li is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he conducts research in construction engineering and management. His research interests are related to multisensory data processing applied to construction automation and innovative public-private mechanisms to finance infrastructure investment. 

Sponsoring Organization 

Urban Dynamics Institute


  • Weinberg Auditorium
  • Building: 4500-N
  • Room: I-126

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