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Unmanned aircraft and artificial intelligence technology will save lives in water emergencies by dropping life rafts to those in distress.
While the Lifesaver onboard system developed by drone company Tekever can’t rescue people, it could help prevent deaths from hypothermia. The raft will enable survivors to get out of the water and help them stay alive until a manned asset can arrive to complete the rescue.
Cameras on the drone capture images of an area and artificial intelligence algorithms then process the images to detect areas of interest. The drone then alerts an operator and the user can use a zoom function on the camera to see if the object is a person in the water.
The AI software then calculates the optimal point to drop off the raft, so it reaches the individuals in distress in a safe manner.
Because the system’s AI algorithms can process data about weather conditions and flight plan restrictions, the operator doesn’t have to wait for the perfect conditions.
The raft is not motorized and can hold up to eight people, according to nationaldefensemagazine.org.
The company recently completed testing off the coast of Portugal, and the system will be deployed using the manufacturer’s AR5 drones which can cruise at 60 mph and can operate for 20 hours at a time.
The system is currently being offered to the European Maritime Safety Service, a European Union agency that enforces safety regulations.