Ideas and Validation January 23, 2021

Brainstorming avalanche detection/rescue system!


Hello to all the community,

I'm not active lately but I deeply regret it, cuz I think this community has a lot to offer.

So I've opened this post, cuz it's the winter season here and maybe other here I'm doing a lot of skis and freeride, but unfortunately in my country, some people were trapped in avalanches and died.

This made me think of it (under my shower) and came up with this crazy idea. So I want to share it here and have feedback on it and a solution on how it might be implemented.

  • How would it help to rescue people if we can found a way to indicate their position under the snow?
  • How will it help to have a system that directly contacts the rescue team?

So I was thinking of a system that might use the accelerometer to detect the orientation of the skier that is trapped under the snow. With this, we can detect if the user is upside-down or facing the sky, etc...
Then in his bag, he will have a device that will grow, kind of that old-school car antenna ( and will then push trough snow to reveal his position to the rescue team.

But this can only work when a skier is trapped in a specific position, so I'm kind of brainstorming how could we manage to make this device help the skier to be detected in every position he might be trapped under the snow. For example, if he is on his back it might be difficult to let the "antenna" grow because the body is blocking the way.

I've thought of multiple devices that might be activated based on the position detected by the accelerometer but I'm sure there is a better way.

I'm here to try to find something good that might work and ready to hear all your suggestions and ideas...

Thank you for your help.

  1. 1

    Similar idea but much simpler - Before Transceivers (DVA) people looked at a floating ball/tape to indicate position. They are still available but AFAIK not really recommended due to the likelihood of getting wrapped up in the rope (maybe around your neck) whilst tumbling either in an avalanche or just in a regular fall.

    For your antenna idea after an avi stops the snow pack sets hard like crushed snowballs. Thats why victims can't free themselves so your 'antenna' and motor would have to be pretty damn strong to push out + be able to extend a few meters. Look at how strong an avalanche probe is and if you get chance try using one to probe around the site of an old triggered avalanche to see how difficult it can be to push in.

    1. 1

      Hey, thank you for the info and feedback.
      I first think of the same thing as mini fireworks with a ballon a the top, but I've seen some avalanches crash from freeride where they made 10-15 front-flip so this idea was clearly not a good one.

      I was also reflecting on this, how hard will this antenna/metal should be, so I was thinking of surfaces and I guess that even if the snow is really compact if the antenna is small enough she will push through. I need to run some tests, but I first needed to brainstorm a bit on this to see if some people have maybe some kind of idea on the metal or motor we should use or stuff like that but it's been productive so far.

      I live near EPFL that is a big innovation pole here, so maybe they will have ideas. But I need first to gather all the possible information and problem this solution will be facing.

  2. 1

    Are there any existing solutions for this? Wouldn't it be simpler to detect somebody with Bluetooth or WiFi?

    1. 1

      There is a detection device call DVA, but ski victims have between 10 to 15 min statistically. And sometimes avalanches are big, you don't know where to start for search, then when you have the sign you need to use the pic to find exactly where the skier is and then start to dig.

      The idea here was to detect the avalanche, find the position of the skier using accelerometer and then use this antenna device to reveal the position of the user using a small flag or something, you will then be able to locate all the victims directly and start digging. This will reduce the time to find victims.

      1. 1

        Doesn’t sound to great indeed. Your solution would work better. Does it require for the user to be conscious? Or is it possible to automatically use this antenna or flag?
        I’ve never skied before so have zero experience.

        1. 1

          I'm not telling my solution is the best, but if you look at this video.

          You will see exactly the purpose of my idea except this time the skier is able to indicate his position with his ski pole.

          1. 1

            That’s so scary!
            Seems like a great indicator, especially when you add a small red flag!

            1. 1

              Yeah, but not i'm trying to know how to actually do this detection the fall and the body position.

              Then i need to find a way to deploy this red flag no matter what's the user position, and I've not been able to find a suitable solution for know.

              For example if the user is on his back under the snow and the device is stored in his backpack, how can i make the "antenna" reach the surface? or if he is upside-down? etc...

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