Rise of the machines

Pictured: Civil Defence drone.

Drones have made their way into the spotlight for a variety of reasons over the last couple of years. One notable incident in 2014, involved a drone called a ‘quadcopter’ which landed in the exercise yard in Wheatfield Prison carrying drugs and a camera for the operator to know exactly where to land. The aircraft’s cargo was emptied by the inmates before prison officials arrived on the scene.

With camera facilities on-board, a drone allows the operator a pilot’s view of the drone’s flight path. Emergency services have found it to be of great assistance when searching for live bodies.

NewsFour spoke with Paul Cooney, of the Civil Defence, at the RDS Drone and Tech Show in March. According to Cooney, there are ten drones used by the Civil defence across the country and it requires two pilots for each drone.

“Our drones are usually called in at the request of Gardaí and Department of Defence to search for live bodies, or by county councils for forestry surveys,” said Cooney.

He recalled two incidents last year, where the Civil Defence were brought in to assist in finding missing people off the coasts of Clare and Donegal, when the drones were of great assistance: “They are really useful in storm conditions or when areas are not accessible by foot. They can go out and cover an area for 15-20 minutes before having to come back and recharge.”

Racing these drones has also become a popular nationwide pastime, with FPV Racing Ireland (First Person Racing) increasing from five members two years ago to a current membership of 800 racing enthusiasts.

The Leinster FPV racing division were present at the RDS show and NewsFour spoke with one of its members, Jaak Pieterse, about why there is such interest in the sport he claims to be ‘the sport of the future’.

“These machines are very fast due to being made from carbon fibre, but because they are being mass-produced in China it’s making them quite cheap to buy,” said Pieterse.

He notes that the operator has the ability to program his controller to suit his own style of flying, but what impresses him more about these machines is the feature of zero latency (the time it takes for the information sent to the machine to be carried out by it). “There is a terrific speed and adrenaline you get with this sport and you can feel your hands trembling because it is so intense.” said Pieterse.

Who knows, your NewsFour issue might be dropped off by one of these drones sooner than you think. For more information regarding registration and legislation please visit: www.iaa.ie

By Paul Carton