RCO Demo to Officials at Ullal Beach, Mangalore

          When technology grows and new invention takes birth, the help of human beings is not needed much. But that’s okay because when computers entered into the market, typewriters were discarded, and many typists at the offices had to switch their jobs-similarly when ATM machines were introduced, the Banking Industry cut down on bank staff.

          Similarly, this Low-Cost Robot Can Do The Work of three Lifeguards in a Rescue! Don’t be surprised if the lifeguards at our local Kudla beaches plunging into the sea to rescue drowning swimmers or fishermen are not humans?

It is a simple device that looks like a swimming pool float; It is equipped with a waterproof enclosure containing the micro-controller, Electrical Thrusters, Transmitter, and various Sensors.

The control unit is equipped with a GPS module for accurate positioning, a flashlight for low light conditions and a camera for visual surveillance.

National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) – Chennai, has developed a low-cost robotic lifesaver that can act in search-and-rescue situations faster than three lifeguards put together!

Christened as the ‘Robo Coastal Observer’ (RCO), was primarily developed for scientific applications like studying the surf zone and collecting real-time ocean parameters like temperature, salinity, and depth. That is one of the major reasons the device is called a “Coastal Observer and not a Lifesaver”.  The RCO can be operated from the shore with the assistance of remote control.

After the successful launching of this device in Chennai, the technology has now been transferred by NIOT to Bengaluru-based “CT Control Technology (India) Private Limited” through the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC), on a non-exclusive basis for large-scale commercial production.

  • Once flung into the sea, the RCO withstands rough waves and can be moved at a rapid speed of five knots up to a range of one kilometre by firing its electrical thrusters.
  • It is controlled remotely by Radio Controlled Remote.
  • Its runtime battery life is about two hours.
  • There is also a facility to switching the RCO on to ‘Autopilot Mode’ by just entering the GPS coordinates of the location to be reached.
  • RCO can be equipped with sensors for ocean data collection along with a camera for surveillance.
  • The data collected is stored and can be transmitted using RF/GPRS/4G/Satellite telemetry to the base station.

Say for example a person is drowning, he/she can simply cling on to the circular float of the RCO or just wear it. The person operating the RCO from the coast can then bring the device back, thus rescuing them.

This device was extensively tested at the Marina beach in Chennai by the officers of the Coastal Security Group of Tamil Nadu, and it proved to be successful.


  • “Robo Coastal Observer (RCO) can be used for Remote Data Collection in both freshwater and salt water bodies such as Rivers, Lakes, Ponds and Coastal regions of the Seas.
  • This equipment can also be used in Polar Regions very close to the icebergs without risking the life of researchers for ocean data collection.
  • The equipment could help researchers by providing valuable data on coastal discharge, salinity variation, pollution monitoring, etc.
  • This equipment can also be used for coastal patrolling and surveillance.

This device was demonstrated on 23 July 2018 at the Ullal Beach in the presence of,

  • Dr. Murali Mohan Choontharu || District Home Guards Commandant
  • Mr. Vijaya Kumar || District Disaster Management Officer
  • Mr. T N Shivashankara || Chief Fire Officer (Mangaluru Zone)
  • Dr. Prakash Shetty || In-Charge/Beach Operator | Talapady Beach Development
  • Mr. Razik || Ullal-Founder, Help India Foundation
  • Mr. Gangi Reddy || Head of Karavali Coastal Security Police
  • and also lifeguards/members of Shivaji Jeevarakshaka Yuva Mandala, Ullal.

The team that handled the demonstration comprised of;

  • Sumanth R || Director – Projects and Systems || CT Control Technology India Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru.
  • B Kesavakumar || Scientist-C [Ocean Observation Systems] || National Institute of Ocean Technolgy, Chennai.
  • Prasoon S || Project Manager || CT Control Technology India Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru.
  • Jasir V K || Field Application Engineer
  • || CT Control Technology India Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru.
  • Abhishek B || Designer and Development Engineer || CT Control Technology India Pvt Ltd, Bengaluru. 

Speaking to Team, Dr. Murali Mohan said,

“In cases when the waves are so rough that a single rescuer would find it difficult to reach the individual in distress, this device can be manoeuvred to the person in no time.

This device is also useful in measuring Nuclear Radiation, Rapid Ocean Data Collection, Water Quality Monitoring in Coastal areas, Autonomous Navigation and Guidance System; and Assistance for the rescue of persons without endangering lives of those who save others.

Further, this innovation can go a long way in helping curb the rising drowning deaths at our local coastal beaches and across the state and the country in times of adversities.”

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