Lifeguard Drones Are Saving Lives in Spain

A pioneering drone lifeguard service in operation across Spanish beaches are saving the lives of people caught up in the powerful ocean tides. The devices — made by Valencia-based General Drones — have now been deployed on 22 beaches across Spain to assist human lifeguards. The drones drop life vests into the sea that are able to keep struggling swimmers afloat until a human lifeguard can arrive. The drone is roughly 2 feet wide and weighs about 22 pounds. The drone is made of carbon fiber and wrapped in a casing that keeps the beach environment from eroding the mechanical innards. The drone is outfitted with a high-resolution camera and carries three lifebuoys. The drone can reach speeds of up to 50mph and monitors roughly 3½ miles of shoreline. Counties that purchase the drone shell out €40,000 ($43,170) and another €15,000 ($16,189) a month for specialized drone pilots who have been trained by General Drones to execute the challenging task of flying a drone out into the ocean — where winds are strong — and deploying lifebuoys precisely over someone who’s drowning. It must be noted that the technology is not a replacement for human lifeguards, but merely an additional tool.