Sea Guardian – Robotic Lifesaver

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Group Design Project
A prototype lifesaving robotic device, to actively secure casualties in the water and reduce the risk to lifeguards
Group Members
James Brady, Ben Brown, Joseph Cobb, Patrick Crampton, James Dutfield, George Ellis, Michael Harris, Kiran Shah

Dr. Nicholas Townsend, Dr. Mingyi Tan

In 2012 an estimated 372,000 people worldwide died due to drowning making it the 3rd leading cause of accidental death. Despite these extreme numbers, many incidents are avoided through the actions of lifeguards. However, the act of saving a drowning individual places the lifeguards themselves at risk; a factor that is often overlooked and must be resolved.

It is not desirable to completely remove a lifeguard from this situation, as their ability to quickly assess and respond to an emergency scenario cannot be replicated by a robotic device. Therefore the proposed system aimed to significantly reduce the danger, by replacing the lifeguard as the first response unit.

The system comprises of a pair of robotic limbs that aim to simulate the actions of a human lifeguard. The device would be directed to the casualty on an Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV), secure the casualty and provide them with sufficient buoyancy to stay afloat; until a lifeguard reaches them and continues the lifesaving process.

Various actuators can reposition a casualty in the water and secure them against the backplate. Integrated into the design are two additional systems: a membrane used for casualty detection and comfort; and a deployable inflation system to keep a casualty afloat.

Testing in both the Lamont and Boldrewood towing tanks proved that the system design was feasible. Future improvements could be made with additional development into the inflation and casualty-detection systems, alongside more powerful actuators.


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