SAFEWAVE is a robotic rescue buoy for beach authorities who are unable to employ professional lifeguards. It is designed to locate and rescue people from strong, dangerous and ultimately life-threatening rip currents. Guided by a laser pointer and sonar sensors, SAFEWAVE can quickly locate and reach the victim using powerful dual hydro jets. Just before the rescue, it inflates with compressed air to transform into a floating V-shape, which is easy to hold on to while being transported to shore. SAFEWAVE is intended to be located in dedicated rescue stands positioned at strategic locations along the beach.

Rip currents are responsible for 80 percent of drowning incidents in the United States. Many people are unaware of the dangers of rip currents and how to react if they get caught in one. Naturally, most people panic and try to fight the strong currents pulling them toward the sea, but they quickly become too tired. Unfortunately, during these types of emergencies, other people often try to rescue the victim only to find themselves stuck in the same life-threatening situation. Most of these drowning incidents could be prevented if a lifeguard was present, but lifeguards are expensive, and many beaches cannot afford to employ professional lifeguards.

Despite its technically advanced functionality, SAFEWAVE appears simple and approachable. Its design maintains some of the iconic expression from the original rescue ring buoys. The rescue stand it is housed on makes it easy to spot even from a distance, and the solar cells keep the batteries fully charged, ensuring SAFEWAVE is ready 24/7.

SAFEWAVE was designed with ergonomics in mind. The nonslip rubber-coated edges provide an excellent grip, making it easy to hold on to, especially in the front with the U-shaped handle bar. In addition, the strong red color of the rubber attracts attention, providing the person in distress a visual indication of where to grab. The inflated V-shape increases SAFEWAVE’s buoyancy and stability, making it easy to get into, unlike a conventional rescue ring. The fabric-reinforced air cushion and the neoprene material on the top provide a comfortable and shock-absorbing contact area for the body to rest on.

Its simple and intuitive semiautonomous functionality ensures that anyone can use it; no prior skills or training is needed. Simply place SAFEWAVE in the water and point it toward the person who needs to be rescued; the intelligent autonomous part does the rest. Importantly, the rescue is performed in a safe and complete way, avoiding the need for other people to risk their lives in the dangerous currents. SAFEWAVE simply makes beaches safer for everyone.


Designed by Philip Nordmand Andersen of Umeå Institute of Design

Contact: Philip Andersen -