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Positive news from around the world that shows humanity at its best

Positive news from around the world that shows humanity at its best

These Drones can Save Lives

Every year, around 2,63,000 people drown worldwide. And while we may think that a drowning person thrashes and waves for help, real-life drownings often happen quickly and silently. Adrián Plazas of Spain, a former lifeguard, knows this. Several years ago, he and his business partner, Enrique Fernández, witnessed a wo-man drowning, and despite the fact that they acted fast, they couldn’t save her. The experience changed Plazas’ life. Now an industrial engineer, Plazas is CEO of General Drones, a company that he founded with Fernández, who works in drone manufacturing. The two combined their knowledge to create a search-and-rescue drone that can help prevent drowning.

Here’s how it works: If a lifeguard notices a person in distress, they can notify a drone pilot, who is also at the beach and can send the drone out to the victim. The pilot locates the victim with the help of a camera on the drone, which can reach them in just a few seconds. This is important, says Plazas, because “the lifeguards have more time to get there.” The drone then drops a life vest (which automatically inflates when it touches the water) to the victim. By hovering over the victim, the drone helps the lifeguard locate the person struggling in the water. Though the project started in 2015, Plazas says it took time to progress from a prototype to a finished product. “It was important to design something specifically for the beach because it’s a tough environment—humidity, the sun, the high wind,” he says. To date, their drones have attended more than 60 emergencies, and have been deployed at 22 beaches in Spain. He’s hoping that more investments and attention will help them expand their services to other countries.

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