A remote controlled robot lifeguard is diving into the waters at Zuma Beach in Malibu, where LA County Lifeguards are the first in the country to practice rescue missions with the $10,000 tool meant to help swimmers caught in a riptide.
The bright red cylindrical device has been dubbed E.M.I.L.Y. (Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard).
“If it’s a classic riptide and people are struggling but they are not struggling to the point of drowning, we can deploy E.M.I.L.Y. to stabilize them until a lifeguard can get there and bring them in,” said Captain Remy Smith with LA County Lifeguards.
“We want to be progressive, so we’re trying it out.”
NBC4’s Michelle Valles jumped in the water to test out the new technology, swimming about 20 yards past the surfline.
Once the lifeguards saw her distress signal, Smith ran to the water’s edge and deployed E.M.I.L.Y. while another lifeguard operated the remote controls, complete with a steering wheel and a trigger to throttle off the power just in time so E.M.I.L.Y. can safely glide toward the swimmer.
“You want to make sure the bow of Emily goes perpendicular; if it’s goes sideways, it’s going to broach,” the lifeguard said.
Less than a minute after E.M.I.L.Y. slid into the water, Valles was able toward the robo-lifeguard, now a floating device, and hold until a lifeguard was able to get to her.