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Sea rescue system that could save lives of offshore wind workers successfully trialled

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21 June 2022

As the number of people working in offshore wind energy grows, one innovative Scottish company is creating the world’s first offshore autonomous casualty detection and tracking system, alongside revolutionary technology that rescues people who have fallen overboard.  

Edinburgh-based Zelim recently successfully demonstrated their two-step recovery system to the offshore wind industry. The company’s real time AI-based casualty detection system – SARBox – detects and tracks multiple people in the water in all weather conditions. Once discovered, Zelim’s Swift Rescue Conveyor recovers casualties in record time.

SARBox was recently demonstrated for the first time at Project SANCHO, a live international exercise at Orsted’s Race Bank offshore wind farm to assess the industry’s emergency response capability. It successfully identified and tracked multiple casualties during the exercise that included the Maritime Coastguard Agency, US Coast Guard, the RNLI, police and Offshore Wind Farm operators.

The Swift Rescue Conveyor also recently completed ‘rough weather trials’ where it tackled wind speeds of 46mph and 3m waves – recovering casualties from the water 30 seconds from first point of contact. Offshore Wind vessels using current overboard recovery systems took over five minutes from first contact. The Swift will launch at Seawork22 this month.

Sam Mayall, CEO of Zelim, said: "Although still rare, accidents do occur offshore and during a person overboard incident, the sooner you can get someone out of the water the better. The difference between 30 seconds and five minutes could be life or death. Our SARBox is cutting out the search element of ‘search and rescue’ and the Swift Rescue Conveyor is getting people out of the water quicker while decreasing the risk of injury during the rescue.”

The development of SARBox and Swift has been supported by the Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult and the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP). In 2019, Zelim joined ORE Catapult’s national Launch Academy, a technology accelerator programme for the offshore wind industry. In 2020, ORE Catapult supported Zelim in the development of an unmanned rescue vessel and in 2021, Zelim worked with ORE Catapult and secured funding from the OWGP to develop SARBox.

Andrew Macdonald, Director of Offshore Wind Development and Operations at ORE Catapult, said: "Innovation faces challenges at every stage from concept through to development and commercialisation. ORE Catapult has been delighted to support Zelim at each stage – from start-up business support through the Launch Academy, collaborative R&D to accelerate technology development, and an OWGP Innovation Grant to finance further growth. 
 
"The team at Zelim have a passion for improving offshore safety and this has helped them build a strong ecosystem of partners and advisors that provide credibility and experience as they commercialise their products.  As the number of offshore wind farms increases and their locations move further from shore, there is a clear need for solutions such as Zelim’s to ensure that safety is never compromised.”