Pelicam: Aerial Lifesaving System

Pelicam is a vision and aerial lifesaving system that provides a low cost solution for coastal safety organizations and improves surf rescue while utilizing natural energy.

Concept
Pelicam is a vision and aerial lifesaving system that provides a low cost solution for coastal safety organizations and improves surf rescue while utilizing natural energy.
 
It is composed of three elements:
 
1) A robotic buoy that controls a kite: Inside the buoy, computer driven motors can wind or unwind the kite cables in order keep it flying with the help of basic force sensors.
2) A helium kite that flies above the shore: The design of the kite integrates helium balloons to provide additional lift to the kite for flying in low-wind conditions. The kite has a wireless camera broadcasting aerial images of the coast to a SLS member who can monitor what is happening in the water and make more informed judgements about an emergency situation. The kite can deploy a rescue device if necessary.
3) The “LifeSeed”; an air dropped flying rescue device: When an endangered swimmer is spotted, the LifeSeed is released and inflated thanks to the puncture of a CO2 canister. The friction of the air on the inflated shape forces the LifeSeed to rotate, slowing down its fall to the target. It then becomes a rescue buoy.
Inspiration / Process
Pelicam is a response to the dangers that threaten the lives of beach goers along the Australian coasts and an attempt to improve the jobs and ability of SLS members.
 
Rough coasts and poor visibility hinder rescue efforts by making it difficult to spot and reach those in danger when we know for a fact that the first 3 minutes are crucial. The Surf Life Saving organization relies on volunteers and funding is often limited, restricting equipment development and use in effect.
 
FACT: In 2011, 61 lives were lost along the coasts of Australia and over 14,000 rescues were conducted.
 
The kite/balloon hybrid appeared to us as the best low-cost / low-energy alternative to traditional helicopter air rescue. A kite can be controlled by very simple movements.
 
The shape of the kite is inspired by fishing kites, square-like for stability and able to lift payloads up to 100kg with adequate wind.
 
The LifeSeed’s design mimics the way maple seeds use air friction to slow themselves down during descent.
Development
For the LifeSeed, multiple iterations of the prop design were prototyped and tested for their aerodynamics (Full-scale model in the video).
Both miniature and full scale models of the kite were prototyped from scratch and tested for maneuverability and lift before arriving upon a final design
A WiFi camera and iPhone application were used in order to simulate the role of a vision system within our design.
G. Couche, C. Doomany, A. Huynh, J. Melchiorri, A. Stocks. March 2013.
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