Drones or UAVs are already proving very useful to many UK workforces. They can improve efficiency by saving time and reducing cost in surveys, aerial photography and inspections, for example. But they are also showing their worth in difficult search and rescue situations. In South Wales a trial was carried out in April by the RNLI and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency. Jointly, they trialled UAVs in coastal search and rescue operations, using them to support their current methods e.g. helicopters and lifeboats. Elsewhere drones are already in regular use and have been reported as saving lives; In Australia, lifeguards took just a couple of minutes to fly a UAV over two swimmers in difficulty. The pilot accurately dropped a ‘rescue pod’ that saved the pair from drowning.
In the USA, coastguard teams also recognise the benefits of drone technologies.
“The Coast Guard “sees a clear opportunity to perform many of its missions faster, cheaper and more safely through the use of short-range unmanned aircraft systems”
In a BBC article, another example of the speed and versatility of UAVs was reported: In addition to visual searches and delivery of emergency supplies, the report says that drones are cleverly being used to hover in remote areas without mobile signal to provide temporary coverage in a wide range of emergency situations. “The idea is that in an emergency, a drone could hover over a disaster area to provide instant 4G mobile network coverage with a 50km (31 mile) radius.”
The widening recognition of positive drone applications is leading to some rapid developments in technology; we do not know just how far the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle will filter into other areas of life. At present, a drone’s ‘eye in the sky’ is often the best option where there is impassable terrain, expanse of water, risk to personnel, or where speed is of the essence.
UAVs/drones are becoming firmly accepted as helpful and efficient in so many fields, but also well recognised now is the need to hire fully trained pilots who work legally, safely and effectively. VFR Studios pilots are CAA Approved (PfCO), Advanced Trained, Insured and DroneSafe Registered.