Autonomous drone lifeboat system tested by Italian Coast Guard

A search and rescue exercise conducted by the Italian Coast Guard, in partnership with the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), has completed the successful deployment of a lifeboat from a TEKEVER AR5 drone, demonstrating the potential to apply unmanned vehicles and artificial intelligence to improving safety of life at sea.

TEKEVER’s AR5 is equipped with optical and infrared cameras, a maritime radar, an AIS receiver, and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon antenna. With fully automatic operation, sensors onboard the drone enable the detection of vessels or humans on the water.

Using artificial intelligence, the drone calculates the optimal time to release the lifeboat close to the vessel or person in distress without human intervention, enabling the lifeboat to be deployed at a close enough, but safe, distance.

The system automatically considers weather conditions and flight plan restrictions, allowing the lifeboat to be used in a wide range of situations with the aim of improving maritime safety and reducing the 2,500 marine casualties and incidents reported by EU member states each year (based on EMSA figures, October 2023).

CLS and TEKEVER have provided EMSA with maritime surveillance support using drones since 2016, with nearly 2,000 hours of flights and nearly 300 missions carried out in Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, and the United Kingdom.

“This successful demonstration by one of the leading maritime safety agencies is a fantastic endorsement of TEKEVER’s cutting-edge technology. We look forward to continuing this partnership with EMSA to improve the surveillance of European waters and ultimately save lives,” said TEKEVER’s CEO, Ricardo Mendes.

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Rob O'Dwyer

Rob is Chief Network Officer and one of the founders of Smart Maritime Network. He also serves as Chairman of the Smart Maritime Council. Rob has worked in the maritime technology sector since 2005, managing editorial for a range of leading publications in the transport and logistics sector. Get in touch by email by clicking here, or on LinkedIn by clicking here.

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