We all took note during the Baywatch opening credits—The Hoff's bouncing pecs are hard to ignore! But we also remember Baywatch for those orange flotation devices thrown into the water at the first sign of danger.
And it turns out that there's a robotic version of that famous floater, called EMILY. The Emergency Integrated Lifesaving lanyard is a remote-controlled boat directed to swimmers by the nearest lifeguard and next year's version will be completely automated.
The 2011 EMILY will have a built-in sonar. Once in the water, EMILY will scan for "movements associated with swimmers in distress", and zoom towards the helpless at 28 mph. The unfortunate swimmer will grab EMILY when it nears, and the robot will tow them back to shore.
Maker Hydronalix will sell the new EMILY for $3,500 a pop. The company's CEO, Tony Mulligan, insists that the robot will still "work alongside human lifeguards", claiming that no computer can replicate human judgment and experience.
But it's easy to see that future versions of EMILY will become more advanced—up to the point that lifeguards will never get wet. Without any incentive to stay fit, the muscular and hammy-acting lifeguard we all grew up with will become a thing of the past.