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Inventor Creates Flotation Device Bazooka 144

Australian inventor Sam Adeloju has won the £20,000 ($32,000) James Dyson Award for inventing the coolest piece of life-saving equipment ever. The Longreach is a modified bazooka which can fire an expanding flotation device up to 150m to a person in distress. From the article: "Mr Adeloju told that the Longreach was inspired by a grenade-launch training session with the Army Reserves. Weighing just 3.5kg, it shoots the rescue device 150m in a manner similar to the way the army uses a grenade launcher to deliver flares and aerial observation devices. Hitting the water activates an expanding foam unit in the Longreach rescue unit, which also incorporates LED illumination and a vortex air whistle."


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Inventor Creates Flotation Device Bazooka

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  • Projectile? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Reilaos ( 1544173 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:38PM (#33812534) Homepage

    "Hitting the water activates an expanding foam unit..."

    What about hitting a drowning human?

  • Er.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by iONiUM ( 530420 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:39PM (#33812558) Journal

    So uh, what happens when your aim is a little too good, and you beam someone in the water with this 3.5kg thing? It's hard to swim when you're unconscious..

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Faatal ( 1907534 )
      Probably takes some training to be good at shooting it accurately. For example I worked as a lifeguard for several summers when I was in high school. When we threw rescue tubes (those red foam things), we were taught to always overthrow the target and then pull the tube back toward the victim so they can latch on easily.
      • "Probably takes some training to be good at shooting it accurately."

        It's a fucking T-shirt cannon, how hard can it be?

        • no, you're not using enough 3D models and technobabble. He's probably got a patent pending on this and will sue all mascots when he finds out!

          But yeah, it's a FANCY Tee Shirt cannon, but it shoots 150 meters.... You'd have a hard time getting something as light as a flotation device shot that far without compressing it somehow.

    • by rakuen ( 1230808 )
      From my understanding, the launcher is 3.5 kg, which means the buoy it's firing probably weighs less than that. It'd still be a problem, but it'd certainly hurt less.
    • Re:Er.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by loafula ( 1080631 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:24PM (#33813788)
      If I'd have to make a wager, I'd say the risk of hitting a person in the head with the projectile is much less than the risk of that person having to swim 150m through rough seas to get to a raft dropped off the side of a boat.
      • by tsotha ( 720379 )
        You're probably right, but life being what it is the very first time this thing is actually used they're gonna nail the swimmer right between the eyes.
    • I read it as the entire device (launcher and projectile) weighing 3.5 kg, not the projectile itself.
    • by afxgrin ( 208686 )

      A refinement to the device would be a range finder, with programmable deployment pod. Instead you fire it over their head, so when the floatation projectile reaches the specified distance, it suddenly expands and drops instead of beaning the drowning person in the head. This would probably push the price up a bit, but makes it particularly cool.

    • "what happens when your aim is a little too good, and you beam someone in the water with this 3.5kg thing?"

      considering it's not designed for accuracy I doubt anyone will hit anyone at 150 meters (1.5 football fields).

      It takes top atheletes nearly 30 seconds to swim 50 meters, and average swimmers at least double that [], meaning a minute and a half to 3 minutes for someone to reach you 150 meters away. It's very easy to be very dead after 3 minutes in the water making this invention is genius, wonder wh
  • by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:43PM (#33812666) Journal

    So someone 60m from the boat will only have to swim another 90m away from the boat to get their floatie, when the jackass firing the thing misreads the directions.

    And then there's the chance someone will just toss the whole unit into the drink, thinking it's the flotation device.

    Here's my invention: in situations where people are likely to go overboard, require them to wear flotation vests.

    • by aquila.solo ( 1231830 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:51PM (#33812932)
      See, the problem with your invention is that it doesn't involve shooting a floaty-grenade launcher. Back to the drawing board with you!

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What do you not understand about "up to" 150m? If you fire it into the water it's not going to go much farther.
    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 )

      Are you Insane??

      Require them to wear life saving gear??!?!

      Actually, current safety gear for a motorcycle, if worn by the driver can walk away with only minor bruises from a 100mph crash. Unfortunately most Motorcycle riders are too stupid to buy and use said gear.
      I get a kick out of the complete morons riding their crotch rocket in flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt... They advertise to the world "I AM A COMPLETE IDIOT" even a 1 Gram insect at highway speeds will knock the wind out of you and leave a brui

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by srussia ( 884021 )

        Actually, current safety gear for a motorcycle, if worn by the driver can walk away with only minor bruises from a 100mph crash. Unfortunately most Motorcycle riders are too stupid to buy and use said gear.

        This "safety gear" you refer to is called a "car".

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      A) Launch a second one if you miss.
      B) This is for people trained to use.
      C) In some some seas, a simple life jacket isn't enough.
      D) What cruise line is going to make all their passengers wear a life jacket all the time?
      E) What about beach goers?
      F) Giving someone in a bad water situation something to hold onto with their hands makes it easier for a rescue person to control the person.

      It is a good idea, you just seem to gt self fulfillment from making bullshit reason why something is bad. You are being a sad h

    • by arivanov ( 12034 )

      Yeah, and everyone on the beach wearing one.

      You obviously never had to deal with a rip current. It is not funny. You just see the shore going away at a speed that can make even an experienced swimmer panic on the spot and try to fight the current instead of getting out of it.

  • by Dan Dankleton ( 1898312 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:43PM (#33812668)

    A floatation device bazooka sounds like something that The Janitor from Scrubs would create

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:43PM (#33812670)

    That tech is about 200 years old. No kidding. 1st documented rescue rocket rescue 18 February 1808. []

    • The device described just runs out a leader line and you then come out in a boat on that line hand over hand.

      This is a device that lets you shoot a life preserver out and the person saves himself.

      In addition, this is designed to be shot to a person, not to the deck of a ship.

      So they're in the same family I guess, but this is not the same. I doubt this one is really the first of its kind either, but the most important thing is that it work well and become available. Let's hope for the best.

    • THIS is why I love slashdot. It "just happened" that some user knew there was already somebody using freaking rockets for maritime rescue. AND has a link well prepared for people who aren't ready to dig through 200 years old diaries they can't access anyway, with nice pictures to boot.
      Thank you!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      Is that website 200 years old as well?

    • This one appears to work very well. Perfection rather than innovation I guess.

      Appropriately, it has won the James Dyson Award. Dyson didn't invent the vacuum cleaner, just made better ones.

    • by inKubus ( 199753 )

      This was on Prototype This a LONG time ago. It's in the Flying Life Guard episode, and they shoot an inflating life preserver out of a canon. Actually, theirs is even better because the stranded person has a little box that transmits their location to the gun and it puts the life jacket within 10 feet of them. Good show, by the way, and Season One is available on netflix streaming..

  • There doesn't seem to be much in the way of aiming assistance from the graphic. If there's enough force to shoot the payload 150M then I'd prefer it land a few meters near to me but not on my head if I were in need of its help. Aiming as shown could put the thing 100M away.

    • Ah, yes, well... I guess you'll just have to wait until next year when the Human Homing Emergency Life-Preserver Munition Emitter (HHELP-ME) is available. Until then, I guess you can sink 'em or save 'em (or both) with the same weapon, er, um, life saving bazooka...

      I wonder when someone will build a mod to put one of these in a first person shooter? BFG? Naw, give me the LPB!

  • by Drakkenmensch ( 1255800 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:47PM (#33812780)
    A bazooka that saves lives by shooting people in the face. Safety has never been so cool!
    • So does that mean Dick Cheney can finally shoot people in the face and more easily get away with it claiming that "I was just trying to save the guy"?
      • So does that mean Dick Cheney can finally shoot people in the face and more easily get away with it claiming that "I was just trying to save the guy"?

        Or that he'll keep using shotguns and claim that he thought it was the liferaft shooter he was using.

        • Dick Cheney doesn't need to make excuses, nor does Dick Cheney make mistakes. If Dick Cheney shot you in the face, you deserved it, and he'll do it again, and he wont' say sorry!

      • So... just read back your comment and realized I misread what you meant to say there. Sorry about duplicating your post!
  • Take any ol' t-shirt cannon or spud gun and shove a life jacket into it done!
    • Sweet! I'm going to modify it to shoot grenades!

      I got to fire a real grenade launcher in the '80s, and it IS as good as it sounds! Hit the side of a rusted out tank with a non-explosive round. Good times!

    • "...drowned body of John Doe found today wearing a tshirt that reads 'I was expecting a flotation device but all I got was this stupid tshirt.'"

  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @01:52PM (#33812976)

    Do you save four times as many people?

  • I'd like to see this retrofitted to fire beach balls from the turf at sporting events, up to the fans in the upper decks. It would have to inflate just before hitting it's destination, of course. As an extra bonus, a cheerleader could fire this thing at unruly fans that are closer than 150m, and say "oops, my aim was off" when the fan gets smashed in the face by the deflated projectile. Cool, huh?
  • ...a laser target designator.

    • ...a laser target designator.

      So we can blind the person before hitting them in the head with a raft. They will never see it coming!

      • by rossdee ( 243626 )

        Generally laser target designators use infrared wavelengths. Apparantly blinding someone is against the geneva convention, plus you don't want to (in war) give away your position in visible light.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Obfuscant ( 592200 )
          Generally laser target designators use infrared wavelengths.

          Infrared lasers can blind you, too, and since you can't see the infrared you don't have the normal blink reflex to protect you.

          Apparently this is a problem with some (many) of the newer green laser pointers that operate by doubling an IR laser to get to green.

        • I thought for a given power IR lasers were more dangerous than visible because of the lack of a blink reflex.

  • As others have mentioned what if you hit someone? Yes, unlikely given the range/size/area involved but it still needs to be asked.

    Also, how the hell do you aim this thing? If it can go 150m hod do you aim at that little speck of a person 75m away? And compensating for wind/current drift.

    Over all a good idea and Kudos to the creator, it does still need a little work. Maybe Laser guided with a ballistic flight path and a bit of "no_hit_person" code in the guidance module so it lands near, but not on the
    • Maybe Laser guided with a ballistic flight path and a bit of "no_hit_person" code in the guidance module so it lands near, but not on the designated target.

      this thing (probably) is purely balistic, so once it is fired, there is no way to compensate for sudden wind-gusts or anything, putting actual guidance electronics on it and some method of course correction probably makes this way to advanced/complex

      if they can package this into the standard 40mm grenade launcher cartridge, you could just take one of those revolver things and pump out six of those life-rafts in quick succesion, or better yet: []

      • Sorry, I goofed and should have said "high ballistic arch". I was thinking rather than a shallow arch like it appears to use in the vid it could be launched really steep angle and would come down almost vertical to the water. More like a mortar than a bazooka as shown.

        As to guidance, its not new tech and would not be hard, or prohibitively expensive, to add to these projectiles. Raytheon make a laser guidance kit you can bolt onto a standard "dumb" bomb, the "brains" in those LGB kits are smaller than a
        • i realize the electronics are pretty small for a laser guidance kit, but the hardware to actually alter its course i think would be pretty serious, especially if you want to change course/compensate for a large gust within 150 meters.

          and i think the 40mm form factor would be awesome, you could make standard sized munitions and every soldiers could carry one rescue-round when in theaters where water is a-plenty

          • If you take into account that the launcher itself could have already compensated for distance and initial wind drift the projectile would only need to make minor adjustments, mostly not to hit the exact point the laser was on, ie the person.

            Now that I think about it, if the launcher does all the initial wind compensation putting extra hardware in the projectile becomes less important, even if a big gust did knock it way off course it would be easy to just launch another, or a barrage as you suggested earli
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      What people don't get about patents, it's general not an idea. It's a specific way to do something.

  • I'll hold out for Pam Anderson to get to me.
  • 150m isn't that far (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dondelelcaro ( 81997 ) <> on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @02:37PM (#33814022) Homepage Journal

    Assuming this is designed for use on large ships where MOB is a distinct problem (consider how difficult it is to stop and turn around an aircraft carrier or container ship), at 20 knots, you'd have to notice the man overboard and fire the device within 15 seconds. At a carrier's max speed of 35 knots, you have less than 9 seconds. While it's certainly an improvement over hand thrown projectiles, it doesn't have enough distance to handle likely scenarios.

    echo -e '150 m / 20 knots\ns'|units -t1 if you want to play with the conversion yourself.

    • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

      Wouldn't this be more for beaches? 150m is about as far out as most people would go on a beach AFAIK.

      • Wouldn't this be more for beaches? 150m is about as far out as most people would go on a beach AFAIK.

        In my experience, once people get into trouble on a beach, they tend to be unable to swim or be in waves, which makes lifesaving devices pretty much useless. You have to actually go out and get them by swimming or using a boat.

        • by qc_dk ( 734452 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:57PM (#33816580)

          I've a reasonable fraction of my life along the northwestern coast of Denmark, which has some very tricky beaches. The most dangerous places can be those without waves, especially if it's windy. An area with no waves in strong winds is a sign of very strong undertows. The locals learn to read the waves, but tourist think "what a lovely calm piece of water, I'll swim there". They then get dragged out to sea, and even the strongest swimmers can't fight the currents. Many drown not from being overwhelmed by waves but from exhaustion fighting the currents. A flotation device would be perfect in those cases. They'll be able to keep themselves afloat and much easier to spot and retrieve by boat or helicopter, because there is no way anyone sane would be swimming out after them.

          • A flotation device would be perfect in those cases.

            If the currents were faster than swimmers could swim, then I'd expect you to quickly outdistance 150m. Though even in those cases, if you got close enough into the same current, it'd probably be close enough to be useful.

            Of course, people will still find all kinds of innovative ways to drown themselves...

          • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

            I've also vacationed in Baltimore's Inner Harbor. They have tons of life preservers strewn about in cases that sound an alarm when you open it. Those things have MAYBE a 20 foot range if you get a good throw. If someone is in trouble from the coastline you'd better hope that an Olympic discus champion sees you in the water...

          • by elynnia ( 815633 )
            Bingo, that's pretty much what this thing's built for. Over here in Aussieland we call them 'rips', schoolchildren are taught about them, and they're pretty much the reason that surf lifesavers (who the device is intended for, as TFA states) exist in the first place. Warning: Rips are faster than a human can swim and WILL drag you out to the deep stuff in no time unless you get out of it by swimming sideways.
        • by dbIII ( 701233 )
          What about getting caught in a rip? That is a frequent problem. People can still swim and stay afloat but the strong current is stopping them from getting back to the beach.
    • Surely the vessel has smaller craft that can be launched... Even a lifeboat will do. Just slow down the big boat while the little boat zips over and picks up the guy.
      (In the case of an aircraft carrier, it's likely that you'd have aircraft on board, so you could potentially launch one or more to assist in location or recovery.)
  • 5. Bazooka-fired flotation device

    4. Bazooka-fired MREs

    3. Bazooka-fired fire extinguisher

    2. Bazooka-fired first aid kit

    1. Bazooka!
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      If only I could get some sort of gum~

    • The bazooka-fired first aid kit would be a fun addition to many games, anyway. Since you usually don't even need to do anything to pick up items in your path, a first aid kit to the face (fired by a bazooka) would actually heal you.


  • by davegravy ( 1019182 ) on Wednesday October 06, 2010 @04:10PM (#33815736)

    Am I evil for thinking this would fun to shoot into the open windows of passing cars that play tasteless music too loudly?

    • sure... but how do you fill the passing car with water first?

      Filling a passing car with water, _that's_ what I would like to have a gun do.

    • No, not evil, just not thinking it all the way through. We first build a passive sonar targetting system. Set the discriminator circuit to only target vehicles emitting sound in excess of 110dB (BOOMP BOOMP BOOMP locked) . A secondary optical targetting system verifies the target (16 inch chrome wheels with Oh and the lifejacket, replace it with 5 kg of metal augmented thermobaric explosive.
    • Am I evil for thinking this would fun to shoot into the open windows of passing cars that play tasteless music too loudly?

      Evil? No. Evil is using a real bazooka on those jackasses. I really do wish it were easier to obtain significant ordinance here in the US. Assault rifles really don't make the kind of impression that you often need with these jerkoffs.

  • This is a great idea worthy of world wide recognition! I can see this device as perfect for people engaged in occupations like fishing. If someone gets swept overboard in a storm, a life saving raft can be literally launched out to them. It gives the would-be rescuer another option when it may be too difficult or dangerous to reach the person right away - after all, you don't want a one many rescue situation turning into two.

Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have only recaptured 116 of them?