New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has announced the launch of the Little Ripper unammed shark spotting drone for NSW beaches, to be used by lifesavers.
New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has announced the launch of the Little Ripper unammed shark spotting drone for NSW beaches, to be used by lifesavers. Contributed

New drones ‘little rippers’ at spotting shark danger

SHARK hunting drones are set to patrol the skies over North Coast beaches after Premier Mike Baird declared they were the "future of rescue" in New South Wales.

Westpac-sponsored trials of the unmanned aerial vehicles are set to begin in Byron Bay, Hawks Nest and Newcastle before being extended throughout the state.

The remote controlled Little Ripper helicopters do more than just detect sharks, with search and rescue uses and even the ability to deploy emergency and first aid equipment like life rafts, defibrillators and survival kits.

"As Australians, we love the outdoors, and I commend Little Ripper and Westpac for conducting this innovative trial," Mr Baird said.

"This technology has the potential to improve the way our emergency services respond when people find themselves in trouble."

Each drone carries a price tag of about $250,000.

Mr Baird predicted every surf club in the state could eventually have drones added to their rescue arsenals.

Volunteer lifesavers will be trained as pilots and camera operators.

The drones are the brainchild of International Life Saving Federation founding president and philanthropist Kevin Weldon, who brought together a team of experts to carry out the trial.

The eventual aim broaden their use into during natural disasters and other catastrophes to find missing people and help bring them to safety.

Westpac CEO Brian Hartzer said the new technology would revolutionise Australia's search and rescue capabilities.

"The aim of this trial is to accomplish things with search and rescue that were impossible to even dream about 10 or 20 years ago," he said.

"It offers exciting new possibilities to unite multiple emergency services in ensuring more effective and rapid deployment in critical search and rescue missions."

The United States-built Vapor 55 drones can stay in the air for about an hour and carry cameras the government hopes can be linked to software that detects sharks in the water.

- APN NEWSDESK



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