[Editor’s Note: Peter Scott, SLSWA support operations manager, shared that they’d buy a more advanced fleet of drones for more beaches, if the two month trial is a success.]
This post originally appeared on https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/wa/a/33310743/the-drones-that-could-save-your-life-at-wa-beaches-this-summer/#page1.
A two-month trial, starting on December 5, will involve four drones taking to the skies to capture live pictures of the ocean so lifesavers can check for dangers such as sharks and rips.
SLSWA support operations manager Peter Scott said the drone trial would be rolled out across all metropolitan beaches at least once during summer.
It will also be carried out at Meelup and Smiths beaches in the South West.
“This is just another one of the emerging technologies — we’ve been looking at this for the past few years and we think the time is right now for us to put it into action,” Mr Scott said.
He said the drones, which have a battery life of about 25 minutes, would not be flown continuously.
“It’s intelligence-based flying, so if there’s a shark sighting, if we need to investigate someone who looks like they’re in difficulty, for water safety and nippers and that sort of stuff,” Mr Scott said.
“We don’t envisage them being in the air eight hours at a time, just in condensed flying times.”
He said lifesaving branches across the nation were testing drones.
Lifesaver and volunteer drone operator Rod Bates said the technology was exciting.
“It’s a new tool and it provides another pathway for people to join Surf Life Saving and serve their community,” he said.
“Surveillance is critical in what we do to keep the community and the public safe but also surveying our own members in the water because at times you do put yourself at risk to get somebody home.
“Hopefully it will reduce the time to rescue — if we can get out to somebody who is in trouble or notify the public that there is potential danger in the water earlier, the outcome is more favourable for everyone.”
If the trial is a success, Mr Scott said SLSWA would buy a more advanced fleet of drones for more beaches.