Project Ryptide drone flies life-rings to distressed swimmers

Project Ryptide is a drone attachment that is designed to deliver life-rings to swimmers in distress

The speed that drones can be deployed makes them ideal for delivering items when time is of the essence. The Ambulance Drone and Defikopter, for example, are used for transporting defibrillators to those in need. Now, Project Ryptide plans to use drones to deliver life-rings to swimmers in distress.

Unlike the similar Pars aerial robot, the Ryptide is not actually a drone itself. It's an attachment designed to be installed on a drone and carry a folded, inflatable life-ring. When the drone has been flown to a location above the distressed swimmer, a button on the drone controller can be pressed to remotely release the life-ring. When the life-ring hits the water, a salt tablet dissolves allowing a spring pin to pierce a CO2 cartridge and the life-ring to inflate in about 3 seconds.

The project, which is at pre-production prototype stage, was conceived by Bill Piedra, a part-time teacher at the King Low Heywood Thomas (KLHT) school in Stamford, Connecticut. Piedra began working on the design in January 2014 and then began developing it further with students at KLHT in September 2014.

"Ryptide was designed so that anyone can be a lifeguard," Piedra tells Gizmag. "We had the casual user in mind when we designed the basic model; someone that might take their drone to the beach, boating, a lake, or even ice skating. It could be useful in the case of someone falling through the ice while skating, for example."

There will be three different versions of the Ryptide. The basic model is designed to attach to most small drones with no tools required and weighs 420 g (14.8 oz). The multi-ring model can carry up to four life-rings that can be dropped one at a time and weighs in at heavier 890 g (31.4 oz). The final version will carry four life-rings as well as a camera.

The life-rings used by the Ryptide are reusable and can be "recharged" using a kit that will be available with the attachment. Piedra says the life-rings are SOLAS Approved (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea), with United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) approval pending.

A crowdfunding campaign for Project Ryptide is expected to be launched on Kickstarter this month. The targeted funds will be used to build and market the system. Those interested in further info can contact Bill Piedra.

The video below shows the Ryptide in action.

Update March 16 2015: Project Ryptide has now launched on Kickstarter. The funding campaign runs until April 15.

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