This Aussie company is a world beater set to save lives at sea with drone rescue technology

Innovation

Aeromech’s unmanned drone being developed in Queensland is pushing the boundaries of water rescue technology.
Aeromech director Joe Bryant is the Australian inventor of SARGOTM, a drone developed specifically to be dropped from search and rescue aircraft to land safely on top of the ocean’s surface using a parachute.
Aeromech founder and director Joe Bryant is the Australian inventor of a drone developed specifically to be dropped from search and rescue aircraft to land safely on top of the ocean’s surface using a parachute. | Image source: Supplied

Over the past year, the Australian Marine Safety Authority (AMSA) has responded to 390 incidents and saved over 199 lives, but existing technology doesn’t allow for a device to be dropped from a search and rescue aircraft using a parachute, carry a lifesaving package onboard, and then remotely navigate to the people in need.

That could be about to change. Aeromech founder and director Joe Bryant is the Australian inventor of SARGOTM, a drone developed 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.

“The overall design and capabilities of SARGOTM are different to anything else on the market currently deployed by Marine SAR and Coast Guard aircraft,” says Bryant. “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.”

. Aeromech director Joe Bryant is the Australian inventor of SARGOTM, a drone developed specifically to be dropped from search and rescue aircraft to land safely on top of the ocean’s surface using a parachute.

Bryant says that completing an MBA at the University of Queensland and an exchange at Harvard University studying business strategy as part of the UQ MBA, helped give him the confidence and knowledge to set up his own organisation. His background is in Advanced Composites, including 13 years at aerospace giant Airbus. 

The concept of SARGOTM was derived in response to an expression of interest from authorities looking to industry for a product that could improve on existing, and sometimes unreliable, dropped static equipment to conduct Marine Search and Rescue and Coast Guard aircraft rescues. Aeromech will continue to develop SARGOTM in 2023 to meet future customer specific needs.  

Sean Langman, CEO of Noakes Group, a vessel maintenance company in Sydney, says SARGOTM “has the potential to change the way we address search and rescue operations, both domestically and internationally”.

Aeromech designed and is building SARGOTM in Brisbane, with further testing and development ongoing with the aim being to be able to market and export the product overseas in 2023. The company received Queensland State Government Ignite 8 funding in April 2022 to support the commercialisation and export of SARGOTM.

“The beauty of SARGOTM is that it will not only save lives and keep rescuers safe, but it also puts Australian manufacturing on the world stage, while creating new jobs,” says Bryant. “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 is the first of Aeromech’s Unmanned Surface Vehicles, with a second Australian manufactured product, SEEKER, a USV designed to provide above and underwater surveillance, due to be released in early 2023, Bryant says.