Drones get tested for rescues at 10th Ave. Beach

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Testing drone controls at Belmar’s 10th Avenue Safety Pavilion recently were [from left] Hugh Roarty of Rutgers University and life- guards Abigail Buckley and Tyler Daniskas. The drone making the test flight [below] prepares to drop a flotation device that is designed to inflate on impact for a swimmer in distress. PHOTO BY MARK R. SULLIVAN

BELMAR — “Seconds matter when you have a distressed swimmer,” Councilman Mark Levis said at the 10th Avenue Beach last week.

Mr. Levis was on hand for a test to determine whether drones can be a useful aid to lifeguards when a swimmer is in distress.

The Aug. 22 test was conducted by Hugh Roarty, research project manager for the Center for Ocean Observing Leadership at Rutgers University, with the participation of two Belmar lifeguards.

Councilman Levis had contacted Mr. Roarty and volunteered Belmar as the next testing area for drone-assisted rescues.

The drone used for the test was a SwellPro SplashDrone 3 Auto. It is a “commercial, off-the-shelf” model with no modifications made to it.

According to the SwellPro website, the drone is waterproof, able to land on water, has an underwater camera and also features an attachment that can carry and drop a payload.

The payload, for rescue purposes, is a device called a Rescue Stick — a flotation device that inflates upon impact with the water.

Tyler Daniskas and Abigail Buckley, lifeguards with the Belmar Beach Patrol, first practiced with a slightly smaller drone, using an iPhone as part of the controller.

For more on this story, read The Coast Star—on newsstands Thursday or online in our e-Edition.