The Iranian Drone That Saves Lives

Every year, hundreds of people drown in the Caspian Sea. This, along with other statistics from around the world, inspired 28-year-old robotic engineer Amin Rigi from Iran to design a lifeguard drone that can be used in rescuing victims of drowning.

There are many advantages of using a drone when compared to a human lifeguard. The first and most obvious is a drone’s ability to reach a victim much faster than a human rescuer. In Rigi’s early trials at the Caspian Sea two years ago, lifeguard drones were able to reach victims three times faster than their human counterparts.

The earlier version of Rigi's lifeguard drone was called Pars, named after the ancient kingdom of Persia.

The earlier version of Rigi’s lifeguard drone was called Pars, named after the ancient kingdom of Persia.

This is not surprising since the fastest lifeguards can swim up to 5 or 6km/h only while a drone such as the one designed by Rigi can reach speeds of roughly 50km/h. Human lifeguards also need to contend with treacherous swimming conditions such as rough tides and surf.

Rigi’s lifeguard drone initially started off as a conventional octocopter capable of carrying life-preserver rings and dropping them onto the water surface near a victim. In its latest version, the drone can also convert itself into a hovercraft and pull a victim back to shore.

Dubbed Roboguard, Rigi’s latest GPS-enabled drone can land and take off from the surface of the sea and carry 15kg of equipment. Roboguard was also designed to be modular which means it can be upgraded with newer equipment as they become available. It can also be fitted with thermal cameras for rescue missions in low light conditions.

Roboguard has already garnered interest from clients in 32 countries and Rigi expects its first production run to begin this summer with each unit expected to sell for €8,000. Due to scant resources in Iran, Rigi has moved his company, RTS Ideas, to London to benefit from the Sirius accelerator programme which helps young entrepreneurs launch their business.

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Adrin Sham

Adrin Sham is a designer and photographer turned drone enthusiast. Since buying a drone for aerial photography some years ago, he has since developed a passion for UAVs and all things related.

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