The Zelim Guardian is an automated search and rescue craft

It can venture out when conditions are too dangerous for human crew.


Since 2020, Zelim, a little-known startup based out of the UK, has been quietly working to change how first responders take on maritime rescues. “We are here to make unmanned search and rescue normal,” the company declares on its website. An accompanying YouTube video details some of the technologies it’s developing to realize that vision. One of those solutions, an automated rescue craft called the Guardian, is a step closer to reality.

On Tuesday, Zelim announced the craft will integrate the SM300 remote control and command system from Sea Machines, a firm that specializes in autonomous and computer vision software for sea vessels. According to Zelim, the system will allow the Guardian to carry out search and rescue operations on its own. It will also allow first responders to pilot the craft remotely from a “command center anywhere in the world.” The vessel will also integrate Zelim’s own SARBox tech for detecting and tracking overboard sailors and passengers. Once the system detects someone, the Guardian will deploy Zelim’s Swift solution, a device that looks like a conveyor belt, to pull people from the water. “This combination of technologies gives the vessel a unique capability and is a global first for the maritime industry,” the company claims.

Zelim envisions the Guardian launching from a mothership. Since it’s a fully automated craft, the Guardian can venture out into conditions that would be normally deemed too dangerous for a human crew. In that way, not only would it reduce the risk to first responders, but it could also mean the difference between life and death when time is critical. Zelim expects to begin putting the Guardian through extensive sea trials starting later this year.