New Eyes In The Sky For Lifesavers

Surf Life Saving is entering a new era of innovation as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are set to be trialled in NSW for search and rescue, emergency response and shark spotting activities over the winter months.

The Little Ripper Lifesaver© long-range UAVs will initially be trialled in three locations in NSW – Byron Bay, Hawks Nest and Newcastle.

The capability of the technology includes aerial surveillance, search and rescue, shark detection and monitoring or deploying emergency and first aid equipment including floatation devices, defibrillators and survival kits.

One of the founding members of the Little Ripper Project is renowned Australian Scientist and former astronaut Dr Paul Scully Power.

“I think 10 years from now you will see UAVs everywhere. We have to be very careful to make sure that they are integrated within the national airspace. Eventually they will be used for all sorts of things like finding boats at sea, national security, bushfires, floods - I think you will see the UAVs everywhere,” he said.

“We have a six month trial which is being funded very generously by Westpac where we will see what all the applications are, and I think it will just grow and grow.”

President of Surf Life Saving NSW, Tony Haven AM says the opportunities offered by UAVs in supporting the efforts of surf lifesavers on the beach will be enormous.

“This is a fantastic initiative which has the potential to revolutionise the ways in which we can protect the public, respond to emergency situations and save lives,” said Tony Haven.

Little Ripper Fast Facts:

  • The UAV is a military-grade, battery-powered drone that can achieve significant altitude while remaining airborne for approximately 150 minutes
  • Fully loaded the UAV weighs approximately 25kg
  • It requires two people to fly and operate; a pilot and camera operator
  • It features a front-mounted camera that feeds live footage back to the two operators
  • The Little Ripper Lifesaver© is also designed to be used for search-and-rescue operations. The UAVs can drop rescue packs containing life-rafts, positioning beacons, defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment to those in distress. These rescue packs are referred to as ULBs (You Little Beauty)

Fri 1 Apr 2016