In a recent scientific investigation conducted on the mountains of Utah, researchers used a Crossbow solid-state Inertial Measurement Unit to capture the rate and acceleration data required to characterize the dynamic forces inside an avalanche. They believe that this data will help in developing a model to better understand the injuries that might be sustained by a human victim, and to help ski patrols find a victim more quickly.
Crossbow’s Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) was installed inside “Ironman”; an anthropomorphic dummy used to represent a human caught up inside an avalanche. Iron Man was able to measure what happens to a human body trapped and buffeted about in an avalanche and provide rescue teams with data they believe will help save lives.
Avalanches are a very serious threat to off-terrain skiers, snowmobilers and climbers. Even small avalanches are a serious danger to life, between 55 and 65 percent of victims buried in the open are killed, and only 80 percent of the victims remaining on the surface survive. Although ski resort safety officers analyze the snow profile daily, and carry out controlled explosions to loosen the ice and snow when necessary, more than one hundred people die in avalanches each year. Snow flow velocities can often exceed 250 kph, creating forces that are sufficient to crush entire buildings.