The device could be dropped from a helicopter and deployed for short-term use until rescue vessels could arrive on the scene. The goal is to design a device that would hold 100 people and weigh 100 pounds or less.
During the ideation session at Traverse City, the Coast Guard arranged for a special visit that included a helicopter tour and interviews with helicopters pilots, crew members, and rescue swimmers. This up-close perspective helped the students understand how the project’s strict weight and space requirements were derived and to view ocean rescue situations from an operator’s perspective.
“It’s an entirely new design space,” said 2nd Lt. Elias Johnson, AFRL project manager, in a statement. “Most of the current life rafts are designed to meet ‘safety of life at sea’ requirements. That requires rafts to have flares, extra safety equipment, and be capable of staying afloat for several weeks. With this effort, we just want to keep people out of the water until larger rescue crews can arrive.”
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