Marine

Remote-controlled lifebuoy propels itself to save troubled swimmers

Remote-controlled lifebuoy pro...
Designed to help swimmers in distress, the self-propelled Dolphin 1 is guided to where it's need by remote control
Designed to help swimmers in distress, the self-propelled Dolphin 1 is guided to where it's need by remote control
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The operator can remotely control the Dolphin 1 from shore, up to a maximum wireless range of 500 meters
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The operator can remotely control the Dolphin 1 from shore, up to a maximum wireless range of 500 meters
The Dolphin 1 is designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore
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The Dolphin 1 is designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore
The Dolphin 1 has a top speed of 15 km/h, and both of its propellers are encased in metal housing
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The Dolphin 1 has a top speed of 15 km/h, and both of its propellers are encased in metal housing
Designed to help swimmers in distress, the self-propelled Dolphin 1 is guided to where it's need by remote control
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Designed to help swimmers in distress, the self-propelled Dolphin 1 is guided to where it's need by remote control
The Dolphin one weighs 13 kg and can be placed or tossed in the water by rescue personnel before being powered on remotely
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The Dolphin one weighs 13 kg and can be placed or tossed in the water by rescue personnel before being powered on remotely
The Dolphin 1 has ropes around the edge of the bright orange plastic hull, and carry handles on the nose
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The Dolphin 1 has ropes around the edge of the bright orange plastic hull, and carry handles on the nose
The Dolphin one weighs 13 kg and can be placed or tossed in the water by rescue personnel before being powered on remotely
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The Dolphin one weighs 13 kg and can be placed or tossed in the water by rescue personnel before being powered on remotely
The Dolphin 1 is designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore
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The Dolphin 1 is designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore
The Dolphin 1 is wirelessly controlled using a hand remote
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The Dolphin 1 is wirelessly controlled using a hand remote
View gallery - 9 images

Time is critical when rescuers are alerted to a swimmer in trouble, a surfer who's taken a dive or a yacht guest who has fallen overboard. We've seen a number of crafty assistance devices over the years that are designed to help keep waterbabies afloat, such as the life preserver-dropping Pars flyer and the U-Safe from Noras Performance. The Dolphin 1 Smart Lifebuoy operates in a similar fashion to the latter, being thrown in the water and then propelling itself out to the person in distress.

When an alert is raised that a swimmer is in trouble, the rescue team can toss the Dolphin 1 in the drink. From the water's edge, the motorized lifebuoy can then be powered on in the water using a handheld remote and directed to where it's needed. Wireless operation range is reported to be up to 500 m (1,640 ft), and if the rescue craft is overturned by choppy waves, the remote operator can easily flip it back over from afar.

The operator can remotely control the Dolphin 1 from shore, up to a maximum wireless range of 500 meters
The operator can remotely control the Dolphin 1 from shore, up to a maximum wireless range of 500 meters

The bright orange plastic hull has a bumper to front to minimize accidental impact injury and two fog lights in case of poor visibility. Each of the two propellers is enclosed in metal casing to shield them from the flailing arms of victims, and to make sure they don't get tangled up with debris or trailing plants.

Max speed is 15 km/h (9.3 mph) and battery life per charge is 30 minutes. It's designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore.The 115 x 83 x 21 cm (45 x 32 x 8 in) remote-controlled lifebuoy tips the scales at 13 kg (28 lb) and could also transport a lifeguard out to a someone in trouble and keep them both afloat until a rescue boat arrives.

The Dolphin 1 is designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore
The Dolphin 1 is designed to be big enough so that an exhausted swimmer can lay on it like a bodyboard, grab hold of the ropes around the edge or the carry handles at the nose and be brought safely back to shore

Hong Kong-based OceanAlpha has announced that the Dolphin 1 has now entered mass production, and is available for a suggested retail price of US$5,500. You can see it in action in the video below.

Product page: Dolphin 1

Introducing - OceanAlpha Dolphin 1

View gallery - 9 images
1 comment
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$5500 is a lot for a device that won't help a majority of rescue needs. This is good only for a conscious, calm, and rationale swimmer in distress. Most distressed swimmers will literally try to climb aboard it. Panicked swimmers tend to want to get as high out of the water as possible. They don't grab hold and position themselves to be towed to safety. Lifeguards learn to reach out with rescue buoys and stay away from victims because they will literally climb the rope to grab the lifeguard. Guards also learn how to defensively block panicked swimmers from grabbing on. This is a great idea in theory. Maybe some really crowded beaches with lots of resources can strap some to their quads. But a swimming rescuer will still be needed a majority of the time. Also- Why not design this to operate either way up?