Irish beach patrol drones

DroneSAR drone A drone pictured outside the lifeguard hut at Spanish Point beach in Clare County, Ireland

An Irish software startup is boosting lifeguarding operations by trialling the use of drone technology for automated beach patrols for the first time ever in Ireland.

DroneSAR’s partnership with Clare County Council will see it use its new drone search and rescue app to allow to allow lifeguards to quickly deploy drones as their first response to monitor those in distress. The drones scan large areas from above, reducing risk to search and rescue personnel and shortening search times.

Oisin McGrath, DroneSAR CEO, said: “Lifeguard teams using DroneSAR will now be able to monitor live footage from the furthest reaches of their patrol areas, with instant access to call emergency services should the need arise. Drones can now be viewed as airborne lifeguards who cover large amounts of ground quickly and easily.”

The partnership will see lifeguards in Spanish Point beach equipped with DroneSAR software. DroneSAR will provide the drones and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) drone instructors to supervise initial drone flights. Drones will be flown within the bounds of the IAA drone regulations.

A live-video downlink will enable the search pattern of each drone to be monitored by the lifeguard from the lifeguard hut. The Water Safety Development Officer can use the live browser secure link to remotely monitor search progress from any computer or laptop.

In a recent study in Sweden, it took a 14-strong lifeguard team an average of 4 minutes 34 seconds to search and locate a mannequin in a 100m by 100m area. The drone team, comprising one pilot and lifeguard, took an average of 47 seconds to search the same area.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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