This morning it was announced that Surf Life Saving Australia (SLSA) is partnering with Westpac to launch Australia's surf rescue drone program.
The initiative will see 51 drones rolled out nationally over the summer to help patrol our beaches from the sky.
The program has been designed to provide aerial vision of the surf in order to support life savers. The aim is for this new hardware, as well as training, research and development to assist in saving more lives over the busy summer months.
The drones can reportedly be deployed quickly to help relay critical information regarding rips and swimmers who may be in trouble.
There are also plans for the drones to have the capability to drop buoyancy devices to aid swimmers in the future.
As drone technology improves, so too do their potential uses expand. In Australia, we're already sticking them underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef, but we're also putting them to work above the waves, rescuing swimmers. Case in point: just this Thursday, a UAV piloted by a lifeguard was used to save the lives of two swimmers in NSW.
"This technology gives surf lifesavers more eyes in the sky to spot rips and distressed swimmers, and respond to those in need sooner," said Westpac Group CEO, Brian Hartzer
"The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drones will be an important support for surf lifesavers who are tirelessly dedicated to ensuring the safety of others.
“These life saving drones are an extension of our support of drone innovation via The Ripper Group, who continue to sit at the forefront of shark spotting technology, and builds on our 45 year partnership with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, who have conducted 80,000 missions to date."
“There is no better time than now to welcome new technologies that can help us protect more Australians," added SLSA President Graham Ford.
"We’re pleased to be able to continue our relationship with Westpac beyond our work with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service to support communities around Australia through the new Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone program."
This news follows Australia's first unmanned drone surf rescue earlier this year.
Telstra also announced in September that it is testing 4G drones to assist in disaster situations.
The new surf life saving drones will be in service at the following locations across the country:
New South Wales
- Far North Coast
- North Coast
- Mid North Coast
- Lower North Shore
- Central Coast
- Northern Beaches
- South Coasr
- Far South Coast
Some of the specific beaches include:
- North Bondi
- Coffs Harbour to Woolgoolga
- Avoca and North Avoca
- Alexandra Headland
- Sunshine Beach
- Surfers Paradise
- St Kilda
- State Mobile UAV
- Semaphore Beach
- Christies Beach
- South West Region - Meelup / Smiths Beach (peak holiday period)
- Secret Harbour
- City Beach
- Frederick Henry Bay
Telstra has just announced that it has been developing drone swarms that can help during disaster situations using 4G.
Dubbed 'cell on wings', the drones are mounted with a small cell thaat can temporarily boost local mobile coverage, enabling them to re-establish communication during these situations via the Telstra network.