Robotic Lifeguard Coming to Misquamicut

E.M.I.L.Y can reach a distressed swimmer before a lifeguard

By Ryan Hanrahan
|  Thursday, May 24, 2012  |  Updated 1:01 PM EDT
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2 remote controlled flotation devices have been bought by Westerly to help reach swimmers before a lifeguard can.

2 remote controlled flotation devices have been bought by Westerly to help reach swimmers before a lifeguard can.

Swimmers at Misquamicut Beach in Rhode Island may see a robot in the water this summer.

The town of Westerly is introducing a new robotic lifeguard called E.M.I.L.Y (which stands for EMergency Integrated Lifesaving IanYard).

"I think it's pretty neat. It's obviously going to get out there a lot faster than any lifeguard," said James Simmons after seeing video of the device.

The E.M.I.L.Y device is a remote controlled flotation device that can travel through big surf at speeds up to 24 mph. The idea for buying E.M.I.L.Y devices came from Misquamicut businesswoman Barbara Stillman who saw one of the devices online.

The Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce helped buy the devices along with the town of Westerly, local businesses, and the Westerly Rotary Club.

E.M.I.L.Y may get the most use after 6 p.m. when lifeguards have gone home for the day and police or firefighters are generally the first to respond to distressed swimmers.

The devices are designed to help keep a swimmer that is in trouble afloat before a lifeguard can reach the victim.

"I look at it this way, If E.M.I.L.Y saves just one life everyone will see what a great value it is and a tool to have for everyone," Stillman said.

The cost for each is approximately $10,000 and Westerly expects to deploy them to both town beaches by early July.

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