Survivors of accidents at sea may one day see a drone buzzing toward them, laden with pontoons. That’s the idea behind Robolifeguard, developed by Polish group AeroAtena, which was a semi-finalist in the “Drones for Good” competition held in the United Arab Emirates on Feb. 7.
AeroAtena approached Zortrax, a Polish producer of integrated 3D printing systems, for help creating the prototype for their philanthropic drone. Zortrax also helped re-design some of its elements. Ultimately, it was this prototype that AeroAtena submitted to the Drones for Good judges.
It included facsimiles of the drone’s flotation devices for water landings, its handles for stranded swimmers to grip, and space for the integrated communications system. The drone isn’t designed to fly away with the survivors: instead it opens up communications channels with which the rescued swimmers can talk to rescue services.
Robolifeguard was 3D printed using a Zortrax M200 printer. It incorporates two different types of materials: Z-GLASS, which is translucent, and Z-ULTRAT, designed to resist deformation.
AeroAtena participated in the international category of the competition. The six-person team, made up of Tomasz Muszyński, Ilona Muszyńska, Kaja Muszyńska, Andrzej Majka, Rafał Nowak and Karol Borys, plans to keep developing their drone concept. Ideally, it will be used by lifeguards and coastguard services.
Zortrax COO Karolina Bołądź said that she felt a kinship with AeroAtena since the 3D printing company also began as a tech startup.
“We accepted the proposal by AeroAtena right away because this was a unique opportunity participate in a fascinating project that explored new, life-saving applications for both drones and 3D printing,” she said.
The winner of the $1 million Drones for Good award was Flyability, a Swiss team that developed a drone that can safely fly in small spaces and very close to humans.
The market for non-military drones, such as those to assist first responders or deliver packages, is a growing one. Consulting company Deloitte predicted that in 2015, there will be slightly more than 1 million civilian drones in use.
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Filed Under: Aerospace + defense