Project: Near Shore Water Rescue Device

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Why is this needed?:

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community oversees the Ojibwa Recreation Area located along the pristine shores of Lake Superior. The recreational area offers camping, fishing, beaches, and a marina with easy access to Lake Superior via Keweenaw Bay. The beaches encourage visitors to swim in the waters of the Keweenaw Bay.

From 2005 to 2014, there were an average of 3,536 fatal, unintentional drownings (nonboating related) annually in the United States. An additional 332 people died each year from drowning in boating-related incidents.3 Recreational water safety is a critical topic for first responders in small communities that dot the shorelines of the Great Lakes and the US in general. Not all first responders are trained in water rescue, and not all small communities can afford sophisticated water rescue devices for near-shore incidents.

There is currently a product out there called EMILY which is a remote controlled water surface vehicle that can be driven out to a swimmer in distress and they can be rescued. The issue with the EMILY is that it retails for roughly $10,000 and small communities around the Great Lakes can not afford it.

The Problem and Project Significance:

Communities, municipalities and other agencies responsible for recreational swimming areas are tasked with offering a safe swimming environment while maintaining a reasonable operating budget. An opportunity exists to develop a cost effective, remote controlled, emergency water rescue device for rescuing swimmers in the near-shore zone.

Development of a device that can perform near-shore rescues at low cost and without endangering the rescuer will have a significant impact on small and remote shoreline communities, reducing near-shore drownings and protecting first responders.

SENSE Enterprise Goal:

To develop a device to rescue swimmers in the near-shore area to reduce near-shore drownings. We hope to have a completed and working prototype by the end of the Spring 2017 semester. The device should be able to navigate rough water conditions and be self righting. It should also be able to rescue up to two victims at once and durable as well as reusable. The device should be made with off the shelf components to keep the final retail cost less than $2,000