A new £5m research project geared towards developing new drone technology that could help come to the aid of swimmers in distress has been given the go ahead.
U-Flyte, a collaboration between researchers at Maynooth University in Ireland and a number of industry partners, is aiming to create systems that could help companies deliver essential medical supplies or rescue those in the water quicker.
The systems will also overcome current restrictions that control the distance over which drone operators can fly their machines; without special permission, operators are limited to maintaining their drones within a 500m circumference and within sight at all times.
Drone operators are also limited to flying no higher than 120 metres.
Part of U-Flyte’s mission will be to provide research, data and case studies to guide agencies in allowing drones to safely fly further and higher than the current limits.
Speaking to the Irish Times, Dr Tim McCarthy from the Maynooth University Department of Computer Science and National Centre for Geocomputation, said: “Drone technology has the potential to be used for a wide range of practical applications, from the simple delivery of online shopping, to capturing data for maps of farms, forests, lake and coastlines, and providing security surveillance in vulnerable areas.”
“Experts even foresee drones being used to transport life-saving medical supplies, or coming to the aid of swimmers, making search and rescue operations safer and more efficient than ever before. However, new research is required to ensure that drones can operate safely and securely.”