Good old Kiwi ingenuity on a shoe-string budget could see the world’s first unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for long-range search and rescue operational within the next two years.
The Coastguard has been working with Christchurch-based Global Aerial Platforms (GAP) for three years on two UAVs that could help save the lives of more people lost at sea. The smaller UAV can be launched off a boat and relays information back to Coastguard staff on where any survivors are in the water and also a better view of what’s under the water.
The larger UAV, named Toroa after the Maori word for albatross, will be used to drop off emergency supplies to survivors, such as life rafts, and to send back information via sensors from a much longer range offshore. It can fly up to 10 hours at a time and up to 200 nautical miles offshore in weather conditions too severe for more conventional craft.
“That’s quite a leap over other UAVs,” said Coastguard spokesman Gordon Mckay.
Following recent successful trial flights of the two prototype UAVS in Canterbury, Mckay hopes to have the smaller model operational within a year and the larger 60 kilogram one within two years pending new Civil Aviation regulations on flying into commercial airspace and beyond the operator’s line-of–sight.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com