As the summer season kicks off in full force, certain watersports such as snorkelling, scuba diving and freediving amongst others, are widely practised.
Such water sports include an element of risk deriving from dangers that a diver can face underwater, or from threats created by boats not respecting the safety distance from the buoy.
Safety at sea is an important topic. The ability to mitigate potential risks can be a game changer with a big impact in the field.
To address this, project BEA (Buoy-Eau-Air) proposes a multi-drone system that will follow and communicate with divers, keeping them aware of the situation in the sea and on the surface. The system will consist of one drone operating in the air (UAV), one Buoy on the water surface and one underwater drone (ROV) to support and monitor the safety of divers.
The UAV creates a geo-fence around the diver, offer increased awareness and protection against boat incursions particularly within the surfacing site. The diver can also be notified of sudden changes in weather conditions. The self-propelled buoy acts as a resting platform while hosting critical support and first aid kit. It will also host a docking mechanism and batteries to allow the UAV and underwater drone to recharge. The ROV follows and communicates with the diver, providing him with improved situational awareness.
The system emulates the “buddy system philosophy”, a set of safety procedures to improve the chances of avoiding accidents in or under water by having divers in a group of at least two. The group dive together and co-operate, so that they can help or rescue each other in the event of an emergency. The multi-drone system will enhance this by working in synergy and providing an ability to relay situation awareness to the diver. BEA will contribute towards maintaining the safety track record of the local industry while offering a novelty which boosts the diving experience.
BEA is a two year and a half research collaboration between the Institute of Aerospace Technologies and Divers Code Malta. The project is led by Dr Robert Camilleri with Dr Leonardo Barilaro as main researcher.
BEA (R&I-2018-005-T) is a project financed by the Malta Council for Science & Technology, for and on behalf of the Foundation for Science and Technology, through the FUSION: R&I Technology Development Programme.