Vodafone Spain has launched a project to field sea rescue drones on popular Spanish beaches. A pilot was started on 16 July at five beachs: Cabopino, Marbella; Ribadesella, Asturias; Isla, Cantabria; Cartagena, Murcia; and Benalmádena, Málaga. The remotely piloted aircraft will help lifeguards to reach swimmers in distress.
After being alerted to a possible incident, the drone and lifeguard head towards the sea. The drone’s speed will allow it to reach the swimmer first and drop a lifebuoy. According to Vodafone, the drones will make response times three times faster, which has the potential to reduce the number of drownings. Currently, an average of 400 people drown off Spain’s beaches each year, said the firm.
The rescue pilots have been trained according to AESA (State Agency for Aviation Safety) standards. In order to operate the drones effectively, they require a high level of knowledge of communications, navigation, meteorology, operational procedures and aviation law, and must have ‘absolute control’ of the devices, said Vodafone. To reach their targets, the pilots must be able to perform vertical take-offs, spirals and high speed, two-way flights. They must also work in close collaboration with the lifeguards.
The project will run until September 15.
The aircraft operator of the drones is Trabajoscondron.com.