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Surf Life Saving Qld invests in inflatable-dropping drone firm

written by Adam Thorn | May 12, 2021

Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) has purchased a stake in a company that creates drones that drop inflatables on top of stricken swimmers.

The pioneering deal with The Ripper Group will see SLSQ’s director Grant Dearlove chair its board, and the business then rebrand to the Ripper Corporation.

“Drones are a phenomenal way of achieving our mission to save lives,” said Dearlove. “It made sense that rather than continue to contract with The Ripper Group as a provider, that we invest in the business.”

Little Ripper’s devices perform can sound alerts to swimmers in danger, detect sharks and crocodiles, and track objects or people in the water by dropping sea-marker dye.


The deal will also see the Ripper Group’s former COO Jason Young become CEO of Ripper Corp.

Former International Life Saving Federation president and Ripper Corp director Kevin Weldon said, “Over the past 90 years our organisation has embraced new technology. We started with line and reel and now we are utilising drones.

“Importantly, throughout these changes, our organisation’s core purpose of keeping people safe on Queensland beaches has remained unchanged.”

Last year, Australian Aviation reported how the NSW government deployed a new generation of shark-monitoring drones so advanced they can even identify the creature’s size and species.

The announcement formed part of an $8 million strategy that saw 80 drones deployed across 34 beaches and a gradual phasing out of the use of helicopters.

It followed a $16 million trial of shark mitigation strategies that began in 2016 after a huge uptick in shark attacks on the north coast.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack hailed drones while announcing the government would invest $35.7 million into emerging aviation technology.

“There are many incredible drone opportunities already being explored or trialled that proves exactly that, such as using drones to deliver medical items in regional Australia, tracking sharks around our beaches or mapping bushfire movements to support our valiant firefighting efforts,” said Deputy PM McCormack.

“In agriculture, the 2020 report found using drones could support more efficient decision making to improve profitability for our farmers by decreasing planting costs by up to 85 per cent, just one of many examples of how supporting the use of drone innovation and technology can continue to assist hard-working Australians.”

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