DRONES could be used to help track Wimmera bushfire activity through a new state government agreement.
Ninox Robotics is among a new panel of endurance drone service providers the government has appointed for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
Drones will be available to help the department in a range of fields, including bushfire control, hazard reduction and search and rescue operations.
Ninox Robotics managing director Marcus Ehrlich said the drones had not been used in Victoria yet in a bushfire tracking capacity, but had been trialed in other areas. “It's a bit of a brave new world, the use of high-end endurance drones for emergency services,” he said.
“We started to use drones to go after invasive pest species, but it became abundantly apparent with the system we have that we could use it for a variety of other things.
“These could range from real-time fire mapping to mapping linear infrastructure. There are all sorts of things we could do with it.”
Mr Ehrlich said the department would contact the company if it wanted to use drones during a fire in the Wimmera.
“In theory, we'd come under the control of the state air desk, and we would deploy the drones more than likely at night in the fire mapping role, when there's less aviation assets in the area, skies are clear and we can deploy safely without a human pilot being in harm's way,” he said.
“Night-time cover is a low occupational health and safety risk.”
Mr Ehrlich said the drones had a 50-kilometre operational radius from where they were launched.
“As to how high, that's limited by approvals we have and permission from the air regulator, but generally it’s anywhere between 200 to 600 metres,” he said.
“It’s a really exciting program to be part of.
“We founded Ninox to use technology to help Australians, and I can't think of a better area to do that than in emergency response.”