Now that the summer season is drawing near, Zuma Beach lifeguards in Malibu are testing a robotic lifeguard designed to respond to distraught swimmers before an actual rescuer can arrive on scene. The robotic lifeguard, which appears to be no more than a remote-controlled buoy, is called EMILY, an acronym for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard. Costing $10,000 each, LA County Lifeguards Captain Remy Smith thinks testing the robotic lifeguard is one way for the rescue missions to be “progressive”.
Not a replacement for lifeguards
Hydronalix, the company behind EMILY, first launched the concept of a robotic lifeguard almost three years ago. The company recently brought commercial versions of the device to the market, equipped with travel speeds of up to 25mph. The robot is designed for optimum floatation, steadily accommodating up to four people.
The makers of EMILY are quick to point out, nonetheless, that the robot is not created to eliminate the actual roles of human lifeguards. Speaking to John Roach of Future of Tech MSNBC.Com last Monday, Hydronalix President and EMILY co-inventor Bob Latrup defines the robotic lifeguard as a device to “assist lifeguards”, acting as an initial responder to distressed swimmers. Designed merely as a tool and not a replacement, EMILY is a floatation device that can travel on water faster than a human lifeguard, thereby helping rescue missions save more lives.
Michelle Valles of NBC4 volunteered to test out the remote-controlled lifeguard by jumping into the water, reaching up to 20 yards beyond the surfline. After seeing Valles sending out distressed signals from the water, a lifeguard sent EMILY to sea, while another lifeguard manually controlled a handy remote system. Less than 60 seconds after being deployed to the waves, EMILY got to Valles safely, with the latter able to cling securely to the device until a human lifeguard was able to reach her.
Hydronalix plans to equip the robotic lifeguard with additional features in the future, including a sonar scanner option to help locate people and objects gone missing under the waves.
E.M.I.L.Y. – Specifications, according to Hydronalix website :
-Tethered Buoy Sleep Mode, 100+ hours
-Battery Storage – 577 watt/hours
-5 mph Patrol – 518 minutes
-Speed – programmable for max of 40 mph
-35 minute duration at 40 mph max speed
-Weight – 25 pounds
-Craft Dimensions – 54” Length, 16” Width, 8” Height
-Payload Capacity – additional up to 15 pounds
-80 pound buoyancy