Northern Territory Government Newsroom

Search and rescue drone to take flight powered by Innovation Grant

A new innovation by award-winning Northern Territory information technology company SRA could revolutionise the way search and rescue missions are conducted.

Minister for Business Peter Styles announced SRA would receive a Northern Territory Government Business Innovation Support Initiatives (BISI) grant alongside two other local organisations in the latest funding round.

“SRA will use its grant to develop a prototype for an unmanned, aerial Search and Rescue System, or drone, which has the potential to save lives,” Mr Styles said.

“The company has sought expert advice and will prioritise which functions would be of greatest value to emergency services during a crisis situation.

“This is truly what innovation is about, converting mere ideas into realities which enhance the everyday lives of Territorians.

“Innovative businesses are proven to be more sustainable, productive and efficient and, in turn, employ more people.

“The Country Liberals Government recognises innovation is an important economic driver and the BISI program is helping to foster a culture of innovation within the NT business community.”

The project will see the creation of a remotely controlled or automated aircraft that can be deployed during rescue situations.

The prototype will be tested for range, flight time, stability, environmental implications and ability to deploy thermal and HD imaging.

“SRA is extremely excited about the prospect of progressing this project which otherwise might have faced delays,” said SRA CEO Steve Rowe.

“It could potentially increase safety of both emergency personnel and casualties by acting as a forward scout to identify safe approach routes during rescues and even delivering items such as blankets or radios to the casualty.

“We will also be exploring thermal imaging technology for its potential to monitor casualties’ medical conditions and undertake night searches. 

“This technology could also significantly reduce the cost of rescue operations through the reduction of expensive helicopter hours.”

Once developed the new technology is expected to be highly effective in situations such as the rescue of a seriously injured Taiwanese tourist who was trapped overnight in a crevice on Uluru in June this year.

The BISI program launched on 1 July 2014 and is designed to encourage and enable innovation within the Northern Territory business community.

It includes vouchers of up to $25,000 and round-base, competitive grants of up to $60,000 to commercialise innovations.

Since its inception $186,000 worth of vouchers has been awarded to 10 applicants and $136,000 in BISI grants has been awarded to four successful applicants.

Other projects awarded grants in this round include: Centre for Appropriate Technology (CAT) for extending the CAT mobile phone hotspot function; Maitec, Dr Stefan Maier for Drones for Precision Agriculture in the Tropics.

More information on the BISI program and how to apply can be found on the NT Government website.

Media Contact: Rebecca Barr: 0407 284 066