Following Hurricane Dorian’s destruction in the Bahamas last month, disaster responders used the Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard (EMILY) robotic lifeguard to provide islanders with medical care and supplies.
The remote-controlled USV is equipped with high-definition sonar and sophisticated sensors, which revealed underwater debris that could cause navigational hazards. Disaster responders were also able to map a safe passage through Marsh Harbor— a town in Abaco Islands, Bahamas—using the vehicle’s specialized software.
Within just two hours, the USV was ashore distributing critical supplies, and over the course of a week, EMILY mapped more channels in other storm-ravaged areas of the Bahamas.
The use of EMILY is a result of a collaboration between several entities including Hydronalix, the maritime robotics company behind EMILY, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Navy’s Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. SBIR provides the Navy with “innovative advances in technology” that are created by small firms, while STTR transitions products developed by small businesses, as well as research institutions, to the Navy and Marine Corps.
Over the course of 18 years, the technology in EMILY has advanced from marine mammal research to UAS in Iraq to lifesaving rescue innovation.
“EMILY’s 18-year progression is inspiring,” says SBIR Director Bob Smith.
“From whale-monitoring efforts, to supporting warfighters in harm’s way, to impacting global humanitarian efforts, EMILY is a classic ‘overnight success story’ years in the making.”
Tony Mulligan, CEO and president of Hydronalix, and his business partner, Robert Lautrup, executive vice president of Hydronalix and EMILY co-inventor, continue to work with ONR and SBIR-STTR to develop components to improve EMILY and design spinoffs that focus on several tasks such as search and rescue, law enforcement and Navy mine counter-measure missions.
Thus far, Hydronalix has provided more than 400 EMILY vehicles to navies, coast guards and search-and-rescue units in the U.S. and other countries such as South Korea, the United Kingdom and France.