Brazilian firefighters have a new use for drones:
Rio de Janeiro firefighters are now using drones as lifeguards. Authorities say the drones will be equipped with cameras and life preservers and will assist firefighters to identify swimmers in trouble and provide immediate help to prevent people from drowning at crowded beaches like Ipanema and Copacabana.
Latino FoxNews reports that the drone operation will be chiefly focused on the famous Copacabana beach in Rio during the southern hemisphere’s summer season, which began last week. Operators will use drone footage to identify the exact location of swimmers in trouble, and the drone’s flotation device can be dropped so “the possible victim can stay on the surface of the water until lifeguards arrive,” the commander of the Copacabana Maritime Association, Lt. Col. Fernando Santos, said in a statement released Tuesday by the Rio de Janeiro state government.
Lifesaving crews are also equipped with motorcycles and life rafts, a well as with boats and aircraft; drone operators will join paramedics who also patrol the beaches to protect swimmers.
Pilots were required to pass a 240-hour training course to operate the drones, the head of the fire department’s Unmanned Aircraft Coordination Unit, Lt. Col. Rodrigo Bastos, said in the government statement. “They’re taught disciplines like data transmission, equipment recovery and flight security among others. The course is based on three basic points: Safety, equipment maintenance and training.”
Brazil’s government agencies have used drones before, most notably by introducing a fleet of DJI camera drones last summer to survey areas of farmland and industrial use in order to identify possible labor infractions, in the country’s continuing efforts to eliminate slave labor from its economy.
Fusion.net reported earlier this year that Brazil is becoming a major player in the drone industry, as loose regulations and a robust government and military market make them an appealing home for drone technology companies:
… Brazil and its counterparts offer a highly unregulated airspace to companies fleeing the strict regulations of the American FAA. Brazil’s deregulated airspace, the absence of a rigorous permit system, significantly lowers research and development costs for foreign UAV producers. By investing in homegrown industry, licensing technology, and establishing local subsidiaries, foreign manufacturers are transforming the Brazil into a regional base of drone production for the world market.