…Not yet, except in the imagination of researchers at Tehran-based RTS Ideas which had developed and claims to have tested a search and rescue drone in the Caspian Sea. Equipped with deployable lifebouys, cameras and infra-red sensors for night time use, the drone in development appears to be targetted at coastal areas but shipboard and offshore utilisation could become possible.
Presently the device has a range of 4.5 kilometres and is operated by a lifeguard using radio control.
Says the company: “Pars is an Aerial robot designed and made for saving human lives. The first purpose of building the robot is the relief of people drowning near coastlines. By developing its applications, it can be used in ships and off shore reliefs. It can also be used in other applications such as monitoring of marine and off shore structures, recording films and pictures from dangerous path ways for rescue missions, precise positioning. One of the features of this robot is Ability to save more than one life in a mission it can also track its path by GPS positioning and at the end of its mission it can come back home without the need of user guidance.”
PARS is not the the first robot rescue assistant, that credit goes to a device known as Emily produced in Switzerland. It is, however, the first which opens the possibility of an automatic search and rescue that could locate a man-overboard, deliver flotation devices and lead rescuers to the position.
It is probably many years until PRS becomes practical for shipboard use but it may be a glimpse of a safer future.