GOLD COAST BULLETIN – KYLE WISNIEWSKI
March 12, 2020
Surf lifesavers use drones to tint water and track currents
GOLD Coast surf lifesavers are using drones to drop dye into the ocean to identify rips and hazards for beachgoers in an Australia-first trial.
Sea dye dropped from the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Drone allows lifesavers to see the direction and speed of currents on the drone’s live video footage.
Westpac Rescue and Sydney drone developers The Little Ripper Group have partnered with Surf Life Saving Australia to conduct the trial.
If successful, it is hoped the technology will be used at a number of swimming beaches across the country.
The Little Ripper Group CEO Ben Trollope said the technology was on some of the company’s larger drones, but the ability to now have the dye-drop mechanism on a smaller device could save lives.
“It ‘s definitely been a long time coming,” he said. “The Little Ripper Group, through the Westpac Rescue program , has run the sea-marker dye on our larger drones for the last three years.
“Now being able to miniaturise that will put it on to more beaches around the country for the use of lifesavers and life guards to keep people safe.”
Surf Life Saving Australia ‘s Shane Daw said the number of drones being used around the country would increase after the trial was reviewed .
“What we are talking about is using sea dye to actually work out where dangerous currents are,” he said.
“In search and rescue situations we can find someone a lot quicker than we normally would be able to because we can see where the currents are flowing.
“We are trialling that in Queensland at the moment and in a couple of other states.
“We hope to have these trials finished around June to July and look to roll this out in more states early next summer.”
Surf Life Saving Queensland ‘s Jason Argent said the video on the drone was also helpful for rescue situations and for tracking currents.
“About 20m to 30m above the water we get nice big footage of about half a footy field of vision, which we can zoom in and zoom out,” he said.
“We can be airborne in a matter of minutes once we have loaded the aircraft with the dye.”