Kiwis push boundaries on UAVs as drones claim more traffic space in the skies

Coming to a beach near you?

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.

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