March 16, 2021

How This Underwater Robot Can Rescue Swimmers

In a bid to solve their country’s shortage of poolside lifeguards, a German technology company has designed an underwater robot that can prevent drownings from occurring.

Created by researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Optronics, System Technologies and Image Exploitation (ISOB), the robot works in tandem with lifeguards to rescue swimmers from drowning.

The rescue process is as follows: surveillance cameras mounted on the ceilings above swimming pools register the movement patterns and position of a drowning person.

Utilising an artificial intelligence-based computer system, they send the co-ordinates of the person to the robot, which is then released from its docking station on the pool floor. Finding the person is made easier by the ‘bot’s onboard cameras, and optical and navigational sensors.

Positioning itself underneath the person, the robot lifts its charge to the surface on its flat, stretcher-like top. A mechanical fixture keeps the rescuee in place in the event they are unresponsive.

A recent test carried out in conjunction with German water rescue service, Wasserrettungsdienstes Halle e.V., saw the ‘bot successfully rescuing a 80kg-dummy from Hufeisensee Lake in two minutes.

It is ISOB’s hope to create smaller, lighter and more cost-effective versions than the current prototype, so that they can one day be implemented in pools and lakes countrywide.

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