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project-ryptideThey call it Project Ryptide, and it’s an accessory setup for aerial drones capable of delivering an automatically-inflating life preserver to a swimmer in distress in mere seconds.

The project came about as the result of a group of high school students from Connecticut sought to provide real-time help to anyone pulled into open water or in danger after falling through the ice on a frozen lake or pond.

f66456653ce1e32296263ae8a185765b_originalIt’s a lightweight drone accessory which can be attached to any drone in a matter of seconds, and it weighs less than a typical GoPro camera and gimbal combination.

Here’s how it works. The drone is flown to a location above a swimmer in distress and the operator presses a button on the drone controller to remotely release the attached life-ring. As the life-ring hits the water, a salt tablet dissolves, and that lets a spring pin pierce a CO2 cartridge to inflate the ring in a few seconds.

At this point, the team has a Kickstarter campaign underway to develop their device from the current prototype stage.

The Ryptide was invented by Bill Piedra, an instructor at the King Low Heywood Thomas school in Stamford, Connecticut, and he began work on the design in January 2014 before working with students to refine and develop and it with the help of his students during September 2014.

Piedra, of Flying Robots LLC, is a drone builder and model aviation enthusiast with more than 30 years experience building and flying radio controlled model aircraft. His latest venture is a drone design and manufacturing business, and the company has built and delivered a number of custom drones for professional cinematographers.

f701d3b3e22a1dff5bac7dc58b4bb42f_originalPiedra says to use the basic model of Ryptide, you can simply attach it to a stock DJI Phantom drone, and he adds that the design of the 3D printed mounting platform has been built to accommodate all models of Phantom.

“Ryptide was designed so that anyone can be a lifeguard,” Piedra says. “We had the casual user in mind when we designed the basic model; someone that might take their drone to the beach, boating, a lake, or even ice skating. It could be useful in the case of someone falling through the ice while skating, for example.”

Piedra says there will ultimately be a number of different versions of the Ryptide. The basic model, which weighs just 420 grams, is designed to attach to most small drones without the need for tools. A multi-ring model is capable of carrying up to four life-rings, any of which can be dropped independently of the others. That version, at 890 grams in total weight, can also carry a camera.

The price? The Ryptide Basic Earlybird includes the 3D printed drone attachment for the DJI Phantom, one automatically inflating life ring, one basic drop mechanism with servo, a set of quick-attach velcro straps and the parts for a dummy practice ring for $99. The top of the line setup goes for $499 and includes a gimbal and camera setup.

What do you think of the Ryptide? Do you know of any other student projects aimed at solving problems which use 3D printing? Let us know in the 3D Printed Drone Lifeguard forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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