Pools can make a summer day a glorious experience, but they present a serious hazard. More than 3,500 people in the US drown in them every year. That’s 10 a day. Drowning is the fifth leading cause of unintentional injury death in the country.

That’s why I’ve thought up the Otari, a small submarine drone that would help babies, children, adults, and even pets at risk of drowning in a pool. The size of a lifebuoy, it uses water turbines to move around and airbags to raise the person out of the water.

Charles Bombardier


A mechanical engineer and a member of the family whose aerospace and transportation company builds trains, planes, and more, Bombardier’s at his best when he ignores pesky things like budgets, timelines, and contemporary physics. Since 2013, he’s run a blog cataloging more than 200 concepts, each a fantastic, farfetched new way for people to travel through land, air, water, and space. His ideas are out there, but it’s Bombardier’s sort of creative thinking that keeps us moving forward.

The Otari would run on a battery, recharged by wireless electricity or by the sun. It would use small water jet turbines to cruise around the bottom of the pool, and monitor and navigate its surroundings with sonar and cameras. LED lights would make spotting things easier at night. It could work autonomously, or when triggered by a human wielding a smartphone app.

Today’s pool alarms can warn you when someone falls into the water, but do nothing to assist whoever’s in distress. The Otari would have no such limitation, reaching the person within a few seconds.

The aquatic drone’s key feature would be its side airbags. In an emergency, the Otari would simultaneously send an alert to the owner’s phone and jump into action, positioning itself under the person and activating two airbags (or more as needed) to raise the distressed him to the surface rapidly and safely.

OtariIL.jpgRay Mattison

The strobing LED light and an alarm on the device or the user’s tablet or smartphone would attract people nearby.

I believe the Otari would be great for use in private homes as well as larger resort pools, where lifeguards could direct it. There are millions of pools around the world, so there is a market for such a device, and the technology to build it already exists. So let’s take the plunge.

I would like to thank Ray Mattison from Design Eye-Q who created the renderings of the Otari concept. Based in Minnesota, Ray studied at the College for Creative Studies, and he has worked for Cirrus Aircraft and Exodus Machines. He also created the images of the Icarus wingless aircraft and the Skreemr supersonic aircraft.

Link to original:  

Let’s Patrol Our Pools With Aquatic Drone Lifeguards