World-first drone to save lives in dangerous water rescues

Image supplied.
Media Release by Aeromech

A new world-first drone will help save lives and reduce human risk in dangerous water rescues.  

Designed and created by Brisbane aerospace company Aeromech, the “drone” – known as SARGO (Search and Rescue Go) – is an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) that is set to revolutionise the way search and rescue operations are performed in life-threatening conditions.  

Aeromech Director and the Australian inventor of SARGOTM, Joe Bryant, says there’s nothing else like it on the world stage.  

“The difference with SARGOTM is that it is a USV designed specifically to be dropped from search and rescue aircraft to land safely on top of the ocean’s surface using a  parachute. It can then be operated remotely to transport a payload of life-saving cargo to a stricken vessel or to people stranded in the water,” said Joe, an aerospace engineer.  

“The overall design and capabilities of SARGOTM are different to anything else on the market currently deployed by Marine SAR and Coast Guard aircraft. Existing products delivered by a fixed-winged aircraft must be dropped directly to a target and cannot be navigated remotely, which makes their delivery method limited and inaccurate.  

“That’s why SARGOTM is a very exciting development for the rescue services.”  

In 2021, Aeromech responded to an Expression of Interest from the Australian Maritime  Safety Authority (AMSA) looking for a remotely operated vehicle that could be dropped from an aircraft and land on water – and so the idea for SARGOTM was born. 

Noakes Group CEO Sean Langman said the vessel maintenance company, located in  Sydney, was impressed by SARGOTM, in particular its design, capability and potential.  

“We believe SARGOTM has the potential to change the way we address search and rescue operations, both domestically and internationally,” he said. “SARGOTM is a  product that can fill the gap that currently exists within the search and rescue market.  We will continue to support Joe wherever possible, supporting young Australian companies that show initiative and innovation to ensure the lives of those at sea have access to technology such as SARGOTM,” he said. 

Aeromech was one of the successful recipients of the Queensland State Government  Ignite 8 commercialisation fund announced in April 2022 to support the commercialisation and export of SARGOTM. Aeromech designs and builds SARGOTM in 

Brisbane, and is looking to continue to test and develop it further to market and export  the product overseas in 2023. 

“The beauty of SARGOTM is that it will not only save lives and keep rescuers safe, but also  puts Australian manufacturing on the world stage, while also creating new jobs,” said  Joe. “We want to be part of the revival of Australian manufacturing of high-quality products that are used all over the world to better it – and SARGOTM is our first step in doing that.  

The patented SARGOTM design makes way for Aeromech’s second Australian-manufactured product, SEEKER, a USV designed to provide above and underwater surveillance, which is due to be released in early 2023. 

Joe’s engineering background, including 13 years in the aerospace industry and a  decade with French manufacturing giant Airbus, has allowed him specialise in advanced composites manufacturing.  

It’s with this experience that Aeromech will set up an aerospace capability and manufacturing facility in southeast Queensland in 2023 to support the evolving aerospace and space sectors.