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EMILY, the life-saving robot that wants to rescue refugees at sea

The civil war in Syria continues and with it increases the number of people displaced by violence. Every day hundreds of refugees arrive at the borders of Syria to enter neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq and some even fly to Europe to escape the conflict.

However, there are others who decide not to walk the path but choose to take a shortcut across the Mediterranean Sea to reach Greece. It is certainly a fast route, but the boats used to make these trips are weak and insecure and often do not even have lifeguards.

Since the war began, more than 4,000 refugees have died at sea, therefore, in an attempt to protect the almost 2,000 refugees who arrive daily on the Greek island of Lesbos, the local coast guard. has started using a robot called EMILY (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard) to rescue people.

The island's coast guard invited the Texas A&M University Robot Assisted Search and Rescue Center (CRASAR) to develop EMILY as a pilot project. The robot has been used to save lost swimmers in the United States. but it had never been tried as a life-saving resource on a scale like that of the refugee crisis in Europe.

EMILY is basically a long buoy remotely controlled by an operator. The cable that ties EMILY to a ship or to the shore can extend up to 600 meters, so the operator can guide the robot to the migrants lost at sea and then bring them to safety. EMILY also works with a series of drones equipped with cameras that offer the operator visual resources.

This robotic lifeguard can run at 30 kilometers per hour for approximately 20 minutes on a single charge, which is long enough to do a good number of rescues. Once the operator guides EMILY to the refugee, both the lifeguard and the person holding it are picked up manually, which is why no further propulsion energy is required from EMILY.

Also, thanks to the use of this lifebuoy, rescue and lifeguard experts can focus on caring for victims as a matter of priority They are unconscious, as they will not be able to receive help from the buoy without assistance.

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