Skip to main content

Drones to the rescue! German lifeguards test quadcopters for rescuing swimmers

We already know how drones can deliver awesome video when the gear’s in the right hands, but a growing number of industries are also looking to utilize the technology to give them an edge in their own respective fields.

Thanks to a quadcopter’s ability to reach just about any location in super-quick time, search and rescue is also an area of increasing interest. The machines could come in useful for surveying a disaster scene before sending in rescue workers, or dropping supplies to those in need of urgent help.

Germany’s national lifeguard association, for one, has started testing drones for rescue scenarios, taking auto-inflating floats to swimmers in distress. Working with local drone firm Microdrones, the organization conducted trials over the summer, and recently posted a video (above) of its efforts on YouTube.

The sequence shows a swimmer struggling to keep his head above water. As a lifeguard begins to swim out to the scene, another on the shore flies a drone ahead. Once the drone reaches the panicking swimmer, the operator drops the float, enabling the swimmer to stay safe until human help arrives.

“One of the greatest obstacles to rescuing a drowning swimmer is that they panic and we often can’t reach them in time,” said Robert Rink of the lifeguard association. “After seeing [this], 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 a result.”

Microdrones’ md4-1000 quadcopter comprises a carbon fiber housing and an integrated GPS system that allows it to fly and remain in position – even in strong winds – over the water.

The drone includes a video camera that allows the operator to see a live-stream so they can drop the float as close as possible to the swimmer.

The impressive demonstration shows clearly how the technology could become a vital tool for such rescue operations, its speed of deployment and ability to reach a scene in super-quick time obvious advantages.

Rescue services along some of Australia’s coasts are also developing drone technology, with part of their efforts focusing on using the remotely controlled copters to monitor the sea for sharks.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Parrot retires its mini-drones to focus on its Anafi quadcopter
Parrot Mambo

Competitively priced mini-drones such as Parrot’s Swing and Mambo devices offer budget-conscious buyers an easy way to dip their toes into the world of quadcopters before deciding whether to move on to a pricier, more sophisticated machine such as one of DJI’s Mavic drones.

But the French company confirmed to Digital Trends this week that it's retiring its mini-drones to focus instead on developing its more advanced Anafi quadcopter for the commercial and consumer markets.

Read more
MIT’s new drone can hover like a quadcopter, soar like a plane
best drones under 100 parrot swing

Whether it’s in science fiction movies or according to the reported sightings of members of the general public, one repeated claim about so-called flying saucers is that they possess an extraordinary degree of maneuverability. One moment they could be hovering, the next moving rapidly vertically and, the next, speeding horizontally like a jet plane. It’s a movement that screams "alien presence" because, frankly, no earthbound vehicle is capable of pulling off such feats.

Of course, that’s exactly the kind of thing that sounds like a challenge to the researchers at MIT’s renowned Computer Science & Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). They have designed a new type of drone which can turn on a dime from hovering like an ordinary quadcopter to swooping and gliding like a fixed-wing airplane. In doing so, they may just have solved solve some of the biggest challenges which exist with modern drones.

Read more
This compact drone gun can down a rogue quadcopter at 500 meters
this compact drone gun can down a rogue quadcopter at 500 meters dronegun mkiii  1

An unprecedented drone incident at one of the world’s busiest airports in December 2018 led to flights being suspended for around 36 hours, which in turn resulted in ruined travel plans for around 140,000 people as well as huge costs for the airport operator and affected airlines.

The problem of rogue drone flights near sensitive locations such as airports and prisons is a growing headache for governments around the world, though slowly but surely various solutions are being designed to combat the illegal flight incursions.

Read more