New Russian rescue drone aces its first drowning test

drone rescue drowning

Officials in a Russian seaside resort city say a drone was deployed over the weekend to rescue a drowning swimmer ­– the first use of their new automated system for emergency response.

Black Sea resort’s new emergency response system dispatches drone to save drowning swimmer

Authorities in the Black Sea vacation destination of Anapa said the drone was flown Saturday to rescue a man who swam out too far to sea and, having become exhausted, started drowning. Anapa began testing its automated emergency response system in May, with the weekend’s drone flight the first of its kind within that project. The craft is part of a wider tech-based effort to monitor people around the crowded beach area and react to signs of trouble. The drone was dispatched to the swimmer and dropped a life preserver, allowing him to remain afloat until emergency responders could arrive.

“For the first time ever, a drone rescued a human from drowning,” Anapa’s municipal services said in a statement about the operation. “A young man overestimated his abilities and swam too far away from the shore. He started to drown. The incident was registered by a special monitoring system, and a drone with a life vest was sent to him. Simultaneously, rescue services were called in.” 

The use of uncrewed aerial vehicles in reacting to water emergencies has spread over the past few years. Australian lifeguards now routinely rely on drones to spot and rescue swimmers in danger of drowning, and to keep watch for other threats like sharks.

That aerial approach has spread around the globe, from California beaches to the shores of Lake Michigan. Last month, an English university student produced a small, specialized drone that flies an automatically inflating life vest to people in danger of drowning.

That drone option is now part of the automated monitoring system in use around Russia’s Black Sea coast – and already has one drowning rescue on its record in Anapa. It was designed in a partnership between the nation’s Military Innovative Technopolis Era and the Russian Academy of Sciences, and is being supplied to popular seaside resorts. Anapa, in southern Russia’s Krasnodar region welcomed 12 million visitors last year alone.

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