Drones may sometimes get a bad press as killing machines, but here's one that could actually save your life. Put together by researchers in Iran, this autonomous flying machine is designed to help people who are drowning at sea.
Developed by the Tehran-based RTS Lab it's called Pars, and it's a multi-rotor drone that can carry and drop floatation aids to people who find themselves in troubled waters. In recent tests against a real-life lifeguard, the drone was able to provide a flotation aid to a dummy drowner, 75m from shore, in 22 seconds — 50 seconds faster than its human counterpart.
Packing GPS and a raft of LED lights, it's also capable of performing manoeuvres at night, when it's pretty risky for humans to get into the water and help those in need. The idea is that the drone would be a first responder, providing aid to those in the water more rapidly, before lifeguards can make their way to the scene.
With plans to roll out Pars internationally, we can perhaps expect to see a little drone sat atop a lifeguard seat in dangerous swimming areas before too long. Not quite as sexy as Baywatch, but probably far safer. [RTS Lab via Robots.net via Verge]