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NSW Expanding Drone Capabilities to Enhance Emergency Response

Trials of specialised long-range drones will be conducted by the peak body for aquatic safety in NSW in June 2023 along the far north coast. These drones have been specifically designed to enhance safety, improve emergency responses, and aid in natural disaster situations, both offshore and on our beaches.

Supported by funding from the NSW Government Department of Primary Industries, the Long-Range Uncrewed Aerial Vehicle (UAV) project seeks to not only extend the existing surveillance programme but also broaden its scope to encompass a more extensive portion of the NSW coastline.

The project’s primary objective is to explore the capabilities of this new generation of drones and their potential applications in enhancing public safety, not only in coastal areas but also in diverse scenarios such as flood and bushfire emergencies, as well as search and rescue operations.

By leveraging these specialised long-range drones, the project aims to assess their effectiveness and determine how they can be integrated into emergency response strategies to provide comprehensive coverage and swift assistance during critical situations.

During the trial, real-life scenarios will be simulated to ensure the safe operation of various types of drones capable of extended flights and operating beyond the visual line of sight (BVLOS). Currently, the aquatic safety company boasts the largest coastal UAV surveillance programme in the Southern Hemisphere.

The efficacy of the company’s drone capability was evident during the previous year’s floods when they played a crucial role in providing a comprehensive overview of the unfolding disaster across the state. By using drones, the aquatic safety company assisted the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) in gaining a better understanding of the situation and determining the most effective ways to provide support to affected communities. This demonstrated the potential of drones to enhance emergency response efforts and direct resources more efficiently during challenging situations.

The NSW Minister for Emergency Services expressed enthusiasm for the project, highlighting its potential to revolutionise emergency services’ response in various public safety areas, including shark management, fire and flood emergencies, and search and rescue operations. The Minister emphasised the limitless possibilities that this project could bring.

Recognising the aquatic safety company’s expertise in water safety, the Minister acknowledged that long-range drones would enable the exploration of innovative and cost-effective methods to enhance beach safety. By harnessing the full potential of technology, the project aims to leverage advanced drone capabilities to ensure the utmost safety along the coast.

The CEO of the aquatic safety company acknowledged the significant potential of incorporating long-range drones into their operations. Not only would these drones enhance shark surveillance efforts, but they would also enable emergency services to reduce response times during incidents and enhance situational awareness across a wide range of scenarios.

The expansion of their drone capability would provide an increased aerial perspective, allowing for improved monitoring and potentially saving more lives. The CEO expressed excitement about the upcoming trial, eager to witness the performance of different drone types and the possibilities that lie ahead in using this advanced technology.

As of 2022, the global commercial drone market was valued at approximately US$29.86 billion, with projections indicating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 38.6% from 2023 to 2030. Drones have found widespread applications across various industries, including emergency response and filming.

Their demand remains particularly high in the construction and real estate sectors due to their ability to conduct property surveys, provide real-time project updates, enhance safety measures, and mitigate potential accidents on construction sites. The use of drones in business settings has experienced substantial expansion in recent years. Manufacturers and providers of drone software solutions continue to invest in research, development, and innovation to cater to the diverse needs of different markets.


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