We have known for some time now that Australia has been looking for high-tech ways to make its beach-goers safer from sharks. Now, a potential solution has arrived, courtesy of Westpac, which sponsors the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Services, who plan to deploy a number of drones that will support search and rescue efforts on a trial basis.
The drone being trialled looks more like a tiny helicopter than most drones and is named the Little Ripper. According to a statement from Westpac, the Little Ripper will have 2 main purposes during its trial period, determining the suitability of the drone for Australia’s coastal conditions and developing a system to detect sharks from the air using advanced night-vision systems. The drone could even be used for emergency deliveries, carrying ULB Life Saving Pods to people trapped in life-threatening situations. These pods contain a number of potentially vital items including floatation devices, shark repellent and medical equipment which could just help people stay safe until a manned rescue can be mounted.
Initially, the trial will be run on the coastlines of Newcastle, Hawkes Nest and Byron Bay in northern New South Wales, but it is possible should it go well that it could be expanded, however, details of the number of drones and the cost thereof are currently unknown.
This is hardly the only system being investigated by the government of New South Wales (NSW) to combat the rising numbers of shark attacks, with them mounting a A$16 million high-tech shark strategy. NSW Premier Mike Baird described Westpac’s drone initiative as an innovative way to make the beaches safer at its launch event, stating that “This technology has the potential to improve the way our emergency services respond when people find themselves in trouble.”
Hopefully, the Little Ripper will be able to do its part in keeping the Australian beaches safe, as it is a great example of drones starting to be adopted by authorities for the greater good, instead of hobbyist machines that only seem to attract bad publicity in recent times.
Image credit to Westpac