The drone dubbed ‘Flying Rescuer’ is equipped with two cameras that enable live video transmission up to 1km from the control point and facilitate the launch of lifebuoys. Image Credit: Dubai Municipality

Dubai: Now, people drowning in Dubai beaches will be rescued by drones that will drop lifebuoy rings to them within seconds.

The Dubai Municipality added a custom-made drone named ‘Flying Rescuer’ to its Coastal Rescue and Safety (CRS) System, to help save lives on public beaches, announced Khalid Sharif Al Awadhi, CEO of Environment, Health and Safety Sector.

Alia Al Harmoudi, director of the municipality’s Environment department, said the drone can transport up to four rings of lifebuoys to the accident site, supporting up to eight drowning people at the same time.

“It can also be used with a rescue raft that automatically inflates when it touches the water, instead of buoys to save several people at the same time.”

The Flying Rescuer will be the initial responder to drowning, making rescue operations on holidays and weekends easier, she said.

It is one of the latest innovations added to the CRS system, which has recorded zero deaths due to drowning cases since it launched in 2016.

The rescuer drone consists of four folding arms known as Octa-X8, capable of carrying an 8kg load.

The drone is also equipped with two cameras, one for high precision navigation for live video transmission up to 1km from the control point, and the other to facilitate the launch of rescue pipes and buoys precisely to the drowning area.

In the first report about the municipality’s lifeguard drone project in 2016, Gulf News published that the proposed drone has two cameras that use thermal images to locate the drowning swimmers. “It can travel 300m in five to six seconds, which is much faster than a lifeguard’s swimming speed. It can fly for 35 minutes and cover up to 7 sq km. It is also fitted with a light beam that can direct the lifeguards or boats to a swimming person,” an official associated with the project had said.

It is not clear if the Flying Rescuer has the same specifications.

However, it said the UAV is equipped with an integrated system for addressing the public. “The system enables remote voice guidance to be delivered from the control point of the device. It is very useful in cases of collective drowning or during sweeping currents.”

Rescue and relief cases have reached 2,139 since the launch of the CRS System in 2016, the municipality said.

Of these, 330 were group-drowning cases i.e., 15 per cent of all rescue and relief operations involved three to four people drowning at the same time.