Business

Tuesday 27 June 2017

State agencies turn to drones for rescue missions and fire-fighting

Kevin Houston and Noel McManus, Civil Defence, with rescue mission drones
Kevin Houston and Noel McManus, Civil Defence, with rescue mission drones
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Irish emergency and armed services are increasingly turning to drones to assist in day-to-day activities.

At the 2017 Drone and Tech Expo, the technical officer with the Civil Defence, Kevin Houston, said that camera-equipped drones have been deployed in 64 search missions across Ireland.

Mr Houston told Independent.ie that the flying devices, which record video in high definition, are increasingly being sought by various state agencies as efficient methods of speeding up workloads. He said that Civil Defence drones would shortly be used to assist in the detection of illegal dumping sites, an initiative to be launched by Communications Minister Denis Naughten next week.

Representatives from the Dublin Fire Brigade told Independent.ie that drones fitted with thermal imaging cameras can help detect the most concentrated areas of a fire in an emergency situation. The Fire Brigade is also considering the use of drones to help identify chemical substances in hazardous spillage situations.

"Our drones can sometimes pick out the name of a chemical from a sticker on site that we otherwise couldn't physically get to," a training officer told Independent.ie.

The Irish Army is also adopting specialist drones for military and strategic purposes. It has 12 Israeli-made Autonomy drones that are designed to be used in combat situations, scouting out targets for artillery units.

However, an army pilot at the conference said that the drones have not yet been used by the Irish Army in live combat areas.

The Drone and Tech Expo, which continues until March 12th at the RDS, also features drone-racing heats. The nascent sport involves piloting small drones around an obstacle course with cones and barriers.

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