AFD tests water rescue robot

“EMILY” is the newest addition to the Austin Fire Department.

Rain in the forecast often leads to long busy work days for first responders tasked with keeping residents safe during severe weather.

The Austin Fire Department is looking for ways to make it easier to save lives - even if it means: using robots
Severe weather can strike Central Texas at any time.

We've seen everything from wildfires to floods all within one year. On the front lines are the firefighters, police and paramedics.

Soon robots could also be added to the mix - to help out the manpower.

“They wouldn't replace them, they would be more of a complement to them, because then we can use our staff rescue boats for the victims who are unconscious,” Asst. Chief Richard Davis, Austin Fire Department, said.

AFD is testing out "EMILY," a remote controlled buoy which could be used for swift water rescues. E.M.I.L.Y stands for emergency integrated life-saving lanyard.

“She swims through the water at 22 miles per hour, will be able to get to the victim a lot quicker than a rescue swimmer,” Davis said.

Emily deploys in under 10 seconds and will give conscious victims something to float on until help comes. The Naval Research Academy donated the robot to AFD.

“I think it was beneficial to the fire department. We look at all robotics, not just the UAV’s."

Last year AFD introduced us to UAV’s or unmanned aerial vehicles. Despite the name, some are fit for ground. Well "EMILY" is designed just for water rescues.

The department just got the robot. They're testing it out and becoming familiar with the controls. They hope they won't have to use it, but at least if they do, they'll be prepared.

“The concept of robotics has been proven, it's just our job to perfect it, that's what we're working on,” Davis said.

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