Posted on May 06, 2019 by Ilias Kiritsis
Authorities in the UK are launching a new, year-long drone trial in order to support maritime search & rescue operations.
The 12-month trial, which was launched on the 29th of April, is being spearheaded by Essex Police in association with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
If all goes according to plan, the program should, in theory, help HM Coastguard Rescue Teams by providing more eyes in the sky which they can use to support S&R operations near the British coastline.
“Thanks to the Essex Police Drone Unit, we are able to trial this innovative technology to help rescuers on the front line with more accurate aerial vision, conduct searches in hard to reach or hazardous areas, assist with nighttime thermal imagery searches and relaying messages from rescuers to casualties.
“One thing, we need to stress is that the drones will not replace our Coastguard helicopters, Coastguard Rescue Teams, RNLI or independent lifeboats. However, it is entirely possible that they could be an additional tool to use in search and rescue and enhance our existing capabilities,” said Phil Hanson, Aviation Technical Assurance Manager for MCA in a statement.
At the end of the 12-month pilot program, officials from the relevant authorities will assess the level of impact that the drones had on coastal search and rescue operations in order to prepare for the potential use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the future.
“This pilot will provide our lifesavers with the opportunity to benefit from the advantages that drones can provide when they’re searching for casualties. The increased situational awareness that drones provide could play a significant role in helping us locate casualties as quickly as possible. When lives are at risk, the speed at which our crews can locate and reach a casualty is vital. Being able to see the impact that drones can have in helping our lifeboat crews search and then reach casualties through this pilot will be extremely useful,” said Will Roberts, Senior Innovation Manager at the RNLI in a statement.