microdrones™ releases video showing drone-assisted water rescue

microdrones has released a compelling video demonstrating a new water rescue tactic they’ve developed that uses drones – and may revolutionize lifeguard rescue operations all over the world.

In the video, a specially trained lifeguard spots a drowning swimmer and immediately deploys a microdrones unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, or drone) as another lifeguard rushes through the water to the victim’s aid. The drone flies quickly over the water, reaches the swimmer far ahead of the swimming lifeguard, and drops a compact flotation device that automatically inflates. The panicking victim is then able to grab onto the device and float while waiting for the second lifeguard to arrive.

This innovative approach to water rescue came about when microdrones recognised the potentially life-saving use for their technology and decided to develop the tactic in

collaboration with the DLRG Horneburg (a German lifeguard association) and RESTUBE, the award-winning makers of compact flotation devices.

Together, the international UAV company, the DLRG, and RESTUBE recently simulated a mission to rescue a drowning swimmer in the Elbe River. Crowds present that day watched in awe as the drone delivered the flotation device to the struggling victim. Now that microdrones has released video footage of the event, viewers worldwide can witness this incredible feat, too.

How drones help solve critical water rescue problems

With this innovative new approach to water rescue, microdrones have overcome two key challenges lifeguards face: lack of time and victim panic. An adult is able to struggle on the surface of the water for an average of only one minute before drowning and a child drowns in less than 30 seconds. Often, lifeguards are not able to reach the swimmer in that brief timeframe. With a drone, the lifeguard team is able to fly straight over the water to deliver a flotation device, buying the traditional lifeguard additional time to reach the victim.

Under normal circumstances, when the lifeguard arrives at the swimmer, they encounter a dangerous situation: a victim in the throes of an instinctive drowning response. A panicking victim will instinctively clutch and push up on anything that comes near them, including a rescuer. AVIR Syndrome (Aquatic Victim Instead of Rescuer Syndrome) refers to the unintentional drowning of a rescuer by the panicking victim they are attempting to save. Lifeguards carry flotation devices to rescues for this reason. If the victim is able to remain calm, the rescue is far less complicated and dangerous – and much more likely to succeed. Drone-assisted water rescue helps the victim to be calmer for the actual rescue because they are able to float using the device delivered by the drone.

“After seeing what I saw today, I have no doubt that drones will play a significant role in the near future of water rescue – and that we’ll see less fatalities as result,” said Robert Rink from the DLRG Horneburg.

Water rescue requires specialized drones and other equipment

Drone-assisted water rescue requires specially developed equipment that can rise to the challenges often present in aquatic environments. The drone used in this rescue simulation was the microdrones md4-1000. This quadcopter is highly effective for water rescue because it has uniquely designed motors, rugged carbon fiber housing, highly efficient batteries, and an integrated GPS system. These features allow the UAV to fly and stay in position in strong winds over the water.

md4-1000 was also equipped with an imaging camera that streamed live to the lifeguard operating the drone, allowing them to easily see the precise location to drop the flotation device.

“We are so proud to be able to share this life-saving application with the world,” said Sven Juerss, CEO of microdrones. “It is our hope that decision-makers at lifeguarding organisations, cruise lines, and other aquatic operations will view the video and be empowered to use technology to save lives. We want to raise awareness of the vast life-saving potential of unmanned aerial vehicles.”

To view the drone-equipped lifeguard team in action, view the video here:  https://www.microdrones.com/en/landingpages/mdsar/