Eye in sky set to save lives at beaches

Beach Drone Saving Lives

This post originally appeared on http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/surf-life-saving-wa-expects-to-use-drones-in-fight-against-shark-attacks/news-story/b0ea184014099b6621a45d2a63717746.

[Editor’s Note: The drones can drop rescue packs containing life rafts, beacons, defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment.]

SURF Life Saving WA expects to use drones within two years to help save lives along the state’s coastline.

SLSWA services manager Peter Scott said it was “inevitable” the organisation would eventually use the battery-powered technology for beach surveillance.

“I would be surprised if within a couple of years we didn’t have them within our operational makeup,” Mr Scott said.

Perth-based company Shark Shield recently announced a partnership with a new emergency response drone, dubbed the Little Ripper Lifesaver.

The military-grade drones, which can fly up to 100km and are worth $250,000 each, are being trialled in NSW.

Fitted with a front-mounted camera, the remote-controlled devices feed live footage back to two controllers.

They are designed for search-and-rescue operations and can drop rescue packs containing life rafts, positioning beacons, defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment.

“Combined with the Shark Shield deterrent technology to be included in the emergency kit, this will be the ultimate combo to reduce the risk of shark attacks and encounters,” Little Ripper Lifesaver found Kevin Weldon said.

Mr Scott said Surf Lifesaving WA was considering using a smaller drone adapted for civil use, but was open to other technology.

He said the cost effectiveness of drones had to be clearly qualified and presently they could not fly beyond the line of sight without approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

“There are some people doing it in Australia at the moment, but there have been less than half a dozen approvals. It’s new ground,” Mr Scott said.

The technology will be adopted based on its suitability to meet the outcomes of life saving operations, requirements of the regulator and cost barriers.

“I wouldn’t say it’s going to come in and change everything, but it would just be another tool in the toolkit you could use when you need to,” he said.

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