A drone drops a lifebuoy to a man in the sea during a rescue demonstration at Marina Beach in Chennai on Saturday | P Jawahar
A drone drops a lifebuoy to a man in the sea during a rescue demonstration at Marina Beach in Chennai on Saturday | P Jawahar

Tamil Nadu: AI drones to save people from drowning in Marina

The trained police officials only need to initiate the takeoff. Once the drone is 20 metres into the sea, it will be able to navigate and identify the victim on its own and drop the inflatable device.

CHENNAI: The Centre for Aerospace Research (CASR) of Anna University is set to develop drones to help in rescue operations at sea, especially in drowning cases. It will design and develop drones that can fly automatically, detect people drowning, and drop a folded-up flotation device accurately near the victim.

The hi-tech drones, equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) and cameras, will be manufactured and supplied by the Tamil Nadu Drone Corporation to the State police department.

They will be part of the ‘Marina Beach Life Guard Unit’, which was launched on Saturday by the police. On a pilot basis, the CASR has provided one drone to the Life Guard Unit, which was showcased during the launch ceremony.

The drone is fitted with a lifebuoy, which will be dropped by the drone after identifying someone drowning. However, CASR plans to make some changes in the design.

“Instead of a lifebuoy, we have decided to install a canister that will automatically inflate once it touches the water. The canister will be folded up and the drone can release it immediately after identifying the victim. The inflatable canister will be big enough to support an adult,” said K Senthil Kumar, director of CASR.

The drones will also provide real-time data to the surveillance team.

“At least 10 drones will be manufactured by the Tamil Nadu Drone Corporation for the project and provided to the police,” added Kumar. Though these drones won’t require an operator, the CASR has trained four police officials in flying drones and given them DGCA licences.

The trained police officials only need to initiate the takeoff. Once the drone is 20 metres into the sea, it will be able to navigate and identify the victim on its own and drop the inflatable device. “The drones will make the work of the rescue personnel more accurate and effective,” said Kumar.

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