No one will deny that the high seas are a dangerous place. Especially given recent tragedies, we’re really glad that a super smart group of Australian undergrads is taking self-driving technology to the ocean for a whole new level of search-and-rescue missions.

The technology already exists to get unmanned boats from one place to another, but right now these boats can’t factor in the ever-changing variables of the ocean along with the mission.

A team at Queensland University of Technology came up with a solution and they’ll get a chance to flaunt their skills next month at the first ever Maritime RobotX Challenge in Singapore. They’ve named their boat Bruce and it’s able to completely think for itself in especially dangerous situations.

The competition is fierce with 16 competitors taking on five marine missions requiring varying skill-levels and out of it, who knows? Maybe next year we’ll have the Google Car of boats.

The QUT team’s adviser has a lot of faith in the potential of the project, saying: “This generation of boats will be the first to perform search-and rescue-activities in cyclonic weather, for instance, when it’s too dangerous for emergency services personnel to be on the water.”

We’ve seen this kind of emergency technology in land robotics already. It’s the kind of innovation that could save lives of not only the rescued, but the rescuer in the case of bad weather, oil spills and plane crashes. This is some seriously life-changing technology and we’re excited to see how QUT’s Bruce and the other teams’ creations excel in the field of marine robotics.

What do you think are the major benefits of an autonomous search-and-rescue-boat? Let’s start a conversation in the comments!