German researchers create an autonomous underwater robot to prevent drowning

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Electronics, Systems and Image Exploitation (ISOB) in Germany have created an autonomous underwater robot to save people from drowning. In Germany, nearly 420 people drowned in 2019, and most drownings occurred in freshwater lakes or swimming pools. One of the reasons so many people in Germany drowned was the lack of trained lifeguards to monitor swimming pools.

ISOB Researchers You want to prevent drowning and have developed a water robot that is the only one of its kind in the world. The robot is designed to work with lifeguards and rescue swimmers in emergency situations. ISOB scientists used the expertise of underwater robotics to develop the autonomous system and created a vehicle known as DEDAVE.

The robot can recognize typical situations when a person is in danger using surveillance cameras mounted on the roof of the pool to record movement patterns and the position of the drowning person in the pool. The cameras send the coordinates to the robot, which remains stored farther away in the docking station floor in the pool. When a person drowning in the water is identified, the docking station opens and the vehicle heads to the coordinates provided by the cameras to locate the endangered person and take them to the surface.

The robot features a mechanism to fix the victim in place to prevent it from sliding down while the robot is climbing. The robot in the photo looks like an underwater submarine that can be used to explore shipwrecks. Future releases will be modeled after stingrays. When used in lakes or other outdoor destinations, drones and Zeppelin systems will provide surveillance cameras.

Acoustic sensors will be installed in the autonomous vehicle for use on lakes where visibility is limited. Soundwave echoes can be used to determine the position and orientation of the victim so that the robot can head to the correct location and capture the person. During the test, the robot rescued a mock victim in open water.

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