Tech City: Flying rescue robots to ‘save lives’ at sea

Drone can save swimmers in 20 seconds

Drone can save swimmers in 20 seconds - Credit: Archant

Completely artificially intelligent drones could soon be saving lives at sea thanks to a Tech City start up which aims to drastically cut the numbers of people drowning around the world.

Amir Rigi and Amirmahdi Taheri

Amir Rigi and Amirmahdi Taheri - Credit: Archant

RTS Ideas, a drone development company, based in Corsham Street, was originally born in Iran from a desire to save lives in the Caspian Sea.

The pair applied to the Sirius Programme in London after news about their project sparked international interest.

Amir Rigi, 28, co-founder of RTS Ideas, said: “It’s an issue that is taking lots of lives each year, especially in countries with big coastlines but unfortunately the current situation is that much isn’t being done to increase coastal safety.”

Amir and his business partner, Amirmahdi Taheri, 27, started researching different models of robots, eventually building an aerial robot that could save three people in one mission.

Amir said: “We tested it and ensured it could be effective and efficient. In a competition, we found a lifeguard could perform a rescue in 90 seconds, but the drone took 20 seconds – that 70 seconds is a matter of life and death.”

The drones are people-operated with an attached camera and life floats to locate and save drowning people.

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Amir said the robots are unique as they are upgradeable meaning when new software and hardware is developed, parts of the drones can be updated instead of replacing the whole body.

Amir said: “Finding people is hard with rescue teams, moving in boats you don’t get good vision but the drones’ range and height can spot a drowning person, which is really helpful for ships. A rescue team could take 10 to 12 minutes where a drone could take one minute and basically this increases the efficiency and decreases danger to lifeguards.

“They can also be used in floods and a key point is they can deploy different features for flood rescues flood.”

Later in the year the pair will be releasing packages to enable the drones to perform mountain rescues for hikers and skiers.

Amir also said that working in Tech City, the RTS Ideas had helped develop the business by exposing the pair to other people who could advise them on issues like manufacturing and legal regulations.

He added: “We are really grateful to The Sirius Programme; it has really helped us a lot. We also joined Oxygen, one of the top accelerators in Europe which gave us mentoring on different parts of our business.

“Since October we have experienced two or three years’ worth of experience in developing a business.”

The pair will release their new prototype in April and have already attracted interest from government water rescue companies worldwide and the tourist industry.

Amir said: “We believe that we can rescue lots of people with this technology and in the future years we can decrease the number of drowning at sea at a very high rate - up to 60 per cent.

“Slowly we will increase AI and autonomy to full rescue missions.”

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