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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Robotic ‘Lifeguard’ May Be Coming Soon To A Beach Near You

The Emily rescue system has been tested across the country. (Emilyrobot.com)

Can a robot patrol a beach? Probably not, but one may be able to help lifeguards with difficult rescues.

The Green Valley, Arizona-based company Hydronalix has created a robotic flotation device meant to deploy to swimmers when a lifeguard can’t.

The robot is called Emily, which is short for Emergency Integrated Life-saving Lanyard. It weighs 25 pounds, can go up to 25 miles per hour and can be used as a flotation device for up to six people.

Not A Lifeguard Replacement

Hydronalix Executive Vice President Robert Lautrup says that Emily is not meant to replace lifeguards.

“People that take that outlook about replacing the lifeguard don’t understand the value of professionals, thinking ahead, working to prevent drownings,” he told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “I think the professional lifeguards see it as another technical tool to make rescues either more quickly or with less risk under many circumstances.”

Lautrup says that Emily does have certain limitations, but it can help get to drowning victims in conditions that are too dangerous for a lifeguard to attempt a rescue — for instance in a rip tide or rough weather.

Guest:

  • Robert Lautrup, executive vice president Hydronalix

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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