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Global drone company DJI has announced a collaboration with Australia’s Surf Life Saving Central Coast (SLSCC) that will see the company’s drone technology utilised within search and rescue efforts along the beaches it patrols.

Following a six month assessment period carried over from last year, the SLSCC is undergoing the process of integrating DJI’s drone aerial imaging platforms into its formal rescue and monitoring protocols.

Once the transition is complete, the drone technology will be used by the SLSCC to spot stray swimmers, search rocky coastlines, guide rescue crews navigating the water, and spot nearby sharks.

Brett Beswick, SLSCC’s Director of Lifesaving, said the impact of the technology will help accelerate the organisation’s response times while sharpening their decision making capabilities.

“Historically when we see a shark it is usually very close to shore and potentially swimmers, but having the drones gives us a new perspective that helps us make faster and smarter decisions,” he said.

“In the past we could close the beach for half an hour and not even know if the shark had left the area, but with the DJI drone technology we now have the ability to confirm the situation which is incredibly comforting for our lifesavers.”

DJI’s Head of Stakeholder Relations, Caroline Briggert, said DJI is honoured to work alongside SLSCC to keep Australian beaches safe, as the company continues to research how drones can be effectively used in emergency scenarios.

“DJI is working closely with emergency responders around the world to identify how drones best add value in critical, time-sensitive and often dangerous situations,” said Briggert.

In addition to drone usage in coastal search and rescue efforts, DJI is also investigating the application of drones in other areas, including mountainous regions.

DJI research has found that a drone can find a missing person within a one-square-kilometre radius within 20 minutes, which is over five times faster than traditional search methods.

Last year also saw the company launch DroneSAR, software which streams live images and video from a drone camera to an command centre and ground rescue teams. If a victim is detected, the software then sends the GPS coordinates through email or SMS to a rescue crew.

As the use of drones within non-commercial industries looks to grow, the technology has also seen movement in commercial industries too, with Domino’s completing its first successful drone pizza delivery in New Zealand last November.

The cheesy delivery was completed by Sydney-founded drone startup Flirtey, an internationally expanding business looking solidify itself as a global leader in drone delivery. Aiming to extend its delivery run service to new customers across the US, New Zealand and Japan, the business closed a US$16 million Series A round earlier this year.

For Australia, however, home drone delivery services remain out of sight under regulations from Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Last September saw CASA relax a number of regulation surround unmanned flights, although drone operates still cannot fly their drone beyond their line of sight.

Looking to deregulate drone flight regulations, October last year saw Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester announce that CASA would conduct a safety review to look towards introducing new rules regarding remotely piloted aircraft. The results of the review are yet to be heard.

Image: the SLSCC team. Source: SLSCC.

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