Little Ripper Surf Lifesaving in Port Macquarie, Australia, are trialing Magic Mobility Extreme X8 powerchairs so they can include those with limited mobility in their surf lifesaving program, as drone flyers.
The recently launched drone academy is training drone flyers to locate swimmers in trouble. Some of their drones can even drop those in danger a personal flotation device.
Little Ripper chose the Extreme X8 because of its reputation as the most robust 4-wheel drive powerchair with superior suspension. This, combined with powerful motors, enable it to safely manoeuvre the sandy terrain, steep inclines and beach debris.
“The Extreme X8 has been designed to be highly robust and reliable, so it will go all day on soft sandy terrains,” said Ben, COO Little Ripper Lifesaver.
Until now, wheelchair users have been unable to perform surf lifesaving rescues. Now they will be able to go through drone flying training in an Extreme X8, in preparation for beach patrol next summer. The drones will provide aerial support to the existing jetski and tower patrollers.
Little Ripper began trialing the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in February 2016. The trial aimed to determine the role of drones in search and rescue life saving and keeping the community safe.
The Founder of Little Ripper Lifesaver was inspired by the use of UAVs in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Unmanned drone helicopters were used to patrol the streets of New Orleans after the hurricane. These drones were instrumental in finding some 5,000 people.
Based in Australia and interested in training to become a UAV pilot? Click here to find out more.