BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
Drishti Marine – the company contracted by the Government of Goa – to save lives in peril in the sea, is going a few notches further in enhancing life-saving efforts by introducing a Swim with lifesavers programme: two Artificial Intelligence (AI) robots and eleven dogs trained to rescue people from the water.
“The Swim with lifesavers programme is basically a methodology being adopted where people coming to the beach will be made aware of the beach conditions to give non-swimmers, in particular, a feel of the conditions of the sea,” explained Austin Collaco, the senior general manager of Drishti Marine on Candolim beach.
Drishti employs 450 lifeguards in Goa with 10 normally being deputed on densely populated beaches.
“Apart from saving lives in the water, our role away from the waters is advisory. The task of enforcement lies with the tourism police and tourism officials,” disclosed Austin when explaining the markers set about by Drishti staff where people can and cannot swim.
“Triton is one AI device that we are going to roll out which will help us determine sea activity in areas of the beach not accessible to all. Triton – which has two telescopes on top – will be placed on beaches not frequented often. The machine senses human activity in the water and informs the lifeguard far away,” disclosed Austin.
“Once the lifeguard is alerted, the monitoring of activity in the sea begins with a lifeguard moving closer,” added Austin.
Austin went on to tell GT, “Apart from two telescopes on top, each Triton machine has a solar power unit to back up the internet and intelligence board.”
Dealing with drunken and, therefore, abusive tourists, is something all Drishti lifeguards are accustomed to along the coast of Goa.
“Our role is advisory. Therefore, when tourists do not listen and get abusive, we call the police and they take over,” confesses Austin, as the summer heat takes its toll on tourists and all Drishti staff assembling the equipment to be demonstrated to Minister of Tourism Rohan Khaunte.
“Aurus are robots that we are introducing, and whose role is to inform tourists about sea conditions and supply information to the lifeguards too. The role of Aurus will primarily be to assist lifesavers in controlling the ground situation,” acknowledges Austin.
Saving lives in the sea is the role of Drishti, and they are taking that intent a step further by introducing eleven dogs trained to detect when someone needs help in the sea and how to enter the water in an effort to rescue them.
“Eleven dogs are being trained, at the moment, to realise when a swimmer is in distress and how to wade to the water to rescue them. Once the mission is accomplished, it will be a big relief to have man’s best friend to the rescue,” revealed Austin.
“Tourists, except the ones who have drunk too much, normally tend to listen to lifeguards. The locals sometimes tend to get argumentative, but this is a pattern we are learning to handle,” confided Austin as his team was concluding preparations for Rohan Khaunte’s visit.