PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — For the past year, the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City has been working on a new life-saving program.
The Advanced Autonomous Remote Life-Saving System, or AARLSS, is designed to assist those in distress without the need for another person to get in the water.
On Tuesday, the Navy tested deploying the prototype by helicopter with the help of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office.
“The craft itself has two methods,” Lt. Timothy Grondin said. “It can either search autonomously and identify people in the water or things in the water and then it can also be deployed directly for rescue. It can take items to the survivors, whether it be a raft towed behind the back or simply serve as floatation. It can easily take a 300-pound person, they can grab on and it can bring them back slowly. By itself, it can get out to the fight within about 38 knots over the water. It’s pretty impressive.”
While the system is designed by and for the Navy, they hope to expand its reach to other agencies involved in assisting those in distress.
“If someone is down in the water in perilous seas, we want to get any asset out there we can,” Lt. Grondin said. “Although it is a Navy project, we are hoping to work with not only the Sheriff’s office but also Gulf Coast State College who is helping us directly, and other civilian assets as well and we want to get this out to the entire world.”
In a statement, the Bay County Sheriff’s Office said they “Appreciate the opportunity to partner and train with the Naval Surface Warfare Center to improve search and rescue skills,” adding that “Working together makes both response teams better!”
Navy officials said they hope to continue to expand the capabilities of the system.
Ideas include finding a way to rescue someone that’s unconscious without the need for another person in the water or bringing on more crafts.