Ocean riptides drown an estimated 100 people every year in the U.S. They can sweep a swimmer out to sea at up to eight feet per second, outpacing even the strongest lifeguard. EMILY, the Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard, is a four-foot-long remote-controlled rescue buoy that can zip across choppy waves at up to 26 mph, reaching a drowning victim 10 times as fast as any swimmer.
Propulsion comes from an electric motor and a Jet Ski–type impellor that pulls water in and ejects it out the back, generating enough thrust to safely tow a struggling swimmer back to shore. Lifeguards remotely steer the craft to its target and use an onboard camera and speaker to communicate with victims. Manufacturer Hydronalix has successfully tested EMILY at more than 20 beaches nationwide and next year plans to introduce a version that can navigate on its own using sonar. $3,500.