According to official data, 1,100 people have drowned in the Caspian Sea over the past four years. The stories we’ve heard about these drowning incidents, even among our own friends, caused my fellow students and I to start thinking about designing a system to prevent this. We started four years ago, first by designing watercrafts and submarines, but we ultimately realised that drones are the best solution.
Testing the drone at night.
The problem with watercraft and submarines is that they have limited visual range, and in the event of a storm, they can get stuck. They are also hard to manoeuvre – if they accidentally go past the drowning person and have to turn around, this can take a long time. Drones, meanwhile, have a great vision range and manoeuvrability.
Plans for a new and improved version of the drone.
Our drone is currently equipped with three lifebuoys, so that it can help three people simultaneously. During our research, we realised that when someone is drowning, often other people try to go help them and in many cases, these good Samaritans also run into trouble! The drone also has a night vision camera, a heat-detecting camera, a gyroscope, and a GPS.
“Human lifeguards will still play an important role”
We’re currently working on designing the next version of our drone. This one will be equipped with 15 buoys, which will only inflate once they’re released into the air. It will use solar batteries and satellite equipment. It will also have a larger search range, since it will be based on a platform out at sea and be able to automatically fly and scan high-risk parts of the coastline.
Testing the drone in high-speed winds.
Not everything will be automated, however. Lifeguards still plan an important role, first of all because they’re the best at spotting drowning people. The drone saves the person from drowning thanks to its speed, and then the lifeguards arrive for the ultimate rescue.
We’ve gotten lots of interest, but to start marketing the product, we need investors. We tried getting loans, but were confronted with individuals asking for bribes. The Iranian Red Crescent said on TV that it would buy 20 of our drones, but since then we’ve heard nothing. We’ve had more luck abroad: Two weeks ago, we gave a lecture in Hungary, and met with government and industrial authorities that expressed strong interest in investing so that we could mass produce the drones. We’ve also received offers from other countries, which we’re now reviewing. Wherever they’re built, we hope to put our technology to work saving lives as soon as possible!