Wij Inholland award 2019: Trienos

“Our robot’s objective? To save lives”

Meet URSUS. A self-regulating robot designed to find people lost in the water. Fast and efficiently.  Most rivers, canals and lakes in the Netherlands are muddy and dark, with minimal visibility for rescue divers. “Did you know that divers often use their arms to try and find the victims by touch? That costs precious time,” asks Aydan Kool, one of the co-founders of the start-up Trienos. “Our robot scans the water and pinpoints possible locations of the victim. Making it easier for the rescue divers to locate people in the water, and hopefully –save lives.”

A robot assistant. Who came up with the idea, and for what purpose?
URSUS, or the Unmanned Robot System for Underwater Search and rescue, is the brainchild of Aydan Kool, Jorge de Francisco, Marco Krüger, Nora Jakimovska and Thomas van de Laar. Five Aeronautical Engineering students from Inholland Delft, who started Trienos for their subject Engineering Entrepreneurship. “You could say it was a series of fortunate events,” tells Aydan enthusiastically, “our group has a lot of experience in design processes, we really enjoyed working together, and we got a lot of support from our teachers and lecturers. And think about it. Globally, there are 42 drowning deaths, every hour,” Aydan explains. “If our robot could assist in curbing these statistics, it would be amazing.”

What sparked Trienos?
Inspiration hit them at the Delft fire department. “We were struck by their dive site and how the rescue divers currently operate. We felt that we could improve the current process. Make it more efficient. You could say the problem found us really. It was perfect.”

What was the biggest challenge so far?
Aydan: “Getting in touch with the right people. People are too busy to talk to us or send us information, it’s hard to break into that world. And we were just a bunch of students.” Their luck changed for the better when they met Guido Steijaert, owner of Dieperzicht and active member of search and rescue (SAR). “He opens so many doors for us, because he has many contacts in the fire department. Plus, he likes our project and is officially hosting it. So, he’s one of us now. Go figure!”

The world is your oyster, and it shows. What are Trienos’ plans for the future?
Trienos is already looking far beyond their horizon, since several parties have showed interested already. The Almelo fire department might be the first to test URSUS. Aydan: “Rescue diving is our first project right now, but we have many other ideas. URSUS could help build a database of water bodies in the Netherlands. Or, URSUS could appeal to treasure hunters, or might be useful for vehicle recovery from lakes and canals.” Whatever the future brings, the students from Trienos have one main objective in mind: “We would like to have a positive effect on the world,” Aydan concludes, “and for now, if we could save one life, everything would’ve been worth it.”

Wij Inholland award

Wij Inholland gives students the opportunity to raise awareness for their projects. A platform on which they can distinguish themselves with an innovative and multidisciplinary project. This project should focus on either health, sustainability or creativity. Moreover, it should also add a regional value by working in close collaboration with a (local) company, institution or community. The winning team receives practical support and a € 2000, - cheque.

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