Imagine being out near the edge of the ocean, and you suddenly encounter a Portuguese man of war. It’s stinging tentacles paralyze the whole right side of your body, and you are unable to swim.
Suddenly, you see this red thing approaching you. Don’t worry, it isn’t a shark, but Emily, the Emergency Integrate Lifesaving Lanyard. You could call Emily your own personal lifeguard robot. Just think of it as a combination of David Haselhoff’s finest television shows: Baywatch and Knight Rider.
Emily is made to be tossed into troublesome waters from the beach, from a ship, or even from the air. It then swims away by remote control to rescue swimmers in peril at speeds of 28 miles per hour, and it has a battery life capable of 80 miles on a single charge. It even has speakers for two-way communication with a real lifeguard.
Emily measures at about 54 inches long by 16 inches wide by 8 inches tall, and weighs 25 pounds. It was developed by Hydronalix, a maker of maritime robots, based on a robotic boat they were developing for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for health checks on sea life.
It is possible that you might see an Emily patrolling the beaches of San Diego soon, and it is currently pulling a shift at Malibu’s Zuma Beach. There are reports that Hydronalix will have a fully autonomous version of Emily available by 2011.