Microdrone to the Rescue: UAVs bring flotation to drowning swimmers

March 6, 2017  - By

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Microdrones collaborated last summer with the DLRG Horneburg/Altes Land e.V. (German Lifeguard Association) to simulate a mission to rescue a drowning swimmer, demonstrating the life-saving potential of UAVs.

Crowds watched from the banks of the Elbe River as a UAV flew to the person in distress and dropped a compact rescue device called RESTUBE, which automatically inflated. The swimmer was able to grab onto the RESTUBE and float until he could be reached by a lifeguard and brought to safety.

The UAV used in the rescue was the microdrones md4-1000. The quadcopter drone features specially developed motors, carbon fiber housing, efficient batteries, and an integrated GPS system that allow the UAV to fly and stay in position in strong winds over the water.

RESTUBEFor the simulation, the md4-1000 was equipped with an imaging camera that streamed live to the specially trained lifeguard operating the drone, allowing him to easily see the precise location to drop the RESTUBE flotation device.

“An adult drowns in approximately 60 seconds and a child in only 30,” said Christopher Fuhrhop, founder and CEO of RESTUBE. “By combining UAVs and RESTUBE flotation devices, we arE able to buy the drowning person valuable time that could very well mean the difference between life and death.”

Other safety possibilities for quadcopters include locating people using thermal imaging cameras and collecting data on the condition of leaking and burst banks on hard-to-reach embankments.

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GPS World staff

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1 Comment on "Microdrone to the Rescue: UAVs bring flotation to drowning swimmers"

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  1. William K. says:

    A swimmer would be “in distress” for a fair amount of time, probably a lot more than 60 seconds. So I challenge that part.
    BUT dropping a flotation device to a swimmer is a great application for a UAV, and using a camera to target the swimmer is a great application. The challenge will still be in seeing the swimmer that is in distress when there are a bunch of swimmers in the water. Not likely that a UAV can help with that.