Australia uses drones to ensure social distancing at the beach

Australia uses drones to ensure social distancing at the beach
© Greg Nash

Australian surf patrol guards are using drones to survey beaches and ensure beachgoers are following social distancing guidelines.

Guards are flying remote aerial drones around Sydney's beaches to keep track of crowds this summer and prevent future beach closures, Bloomberg reported.

Authorities were forced to close Bondi Beach in March after thousands of people flocked to the coasts, many ignoring social distancing guidelines and safety measures.

ADVERTISEMENT

Australia's measures against the coronavirus spread have been effective at containing the virus, but not without some setbacks.

In Melbourne, residents just emerged from a three-month lockdown that was imposed after security measures at resorts and hotels failed to prevent a surge caused by overseas travelers.

Northern Beaches Council Mayor Michael Regan said Friday, "It is going to be a very busy summer," citing the drone surveillance program as an essential part of maintaining safety as more residents come outside.

Drones will be operated by surf lifesaver pilots who already use a similar technology for detecting sharks along the coast.

Footage from the drones will be cast back to local council authorities, who will monitor the feed in real time to detect potential superspreader crowds that could jeopardize efforts to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Beaches in Australia vary on their allotted capacity depending on whether it is high or low tide.

Paul Hardy, chief remote pilot for Surf Life Saving NSW, said the drone tools would allow beaches to remain open for much longer this summer, citing the program's effectiveness.

Drones will begin flying at over 20 beaches and parks on Saturday and are expected until the end of February.