Olivia Solon — Wired.co.uk March 17, 2013
Pars is a quadcopter that could be deployed from the shore or from ships, designed to attend to people drowning or in difficulty in the ocean. The prototype carries a single rescue ring, but the team is working on one that carries three, while future iterations may be able to dispense up to 15 self-inflating rings.
The robot features GPS navigation tools, artificial intelligence, sound and image processing, autopilot search and rescue and a range of sensors including a three axel gyroscope, barometer, and compass. It has a FLIR thermal camera for detecting people in the sea, as well as LED lighting so that the robot acts as a beacon in the dark.
The Pars robot also has its own sea platform, where it retreats after a hard day’s work. The platform features solar panels to charge multiple ‘copters and uses satellite data for control.
The team developed the robot in response to the large numbers of people who drown in the Caspian Sea to the north of Iran. In the last eight years, a staggering 46,500 people have found themselves in danger in the water, of which 1,100 have died. The team writes on its website: “Considering that many people drown all over the world every year, this robot can decrease the duration of rescue operations and save more lives.”
It’s not the first rescue robot in existence. A Swiss robot called Emily (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard) is a remote controlled floating robot that can be sent out to save people having difficulty in the water. The robot can travel through waves at up to 64km per hour for 35 minutes, or patrol at 8km per hour for 500 minutes before recharging. It works as a floatation device for up to six people.
The RTS Lab team — headed up by Amin Rigi and Saeid Talebi — has already conducted a few tests with Pars, but needs to do many more. They are looking for funding in order to mass produce the robot, and estimate that the industrial prototyping will cost between $30,000 (£20,000) and $40,000 (£26,400). The team suggests that the robot could also be used for investigating other emergency situations such as floods and earthquakes.
In addition to the rescue robot, the laboratory has also created a water sampling robot that can be dropped into the sea to measure PH, density, nitrates, temperature, dissolved oxygen and chlorine levels. It then relays this data wirelessly to the operator.