3689633184?profile=originalMy local community newspaper had this somewhat positive UAV story on the front page this week - I thought it to be very interesting from the operator side of things.

The full article can be read in the online edition here: Wentworth Courier

Although technically not a very complicated task, and you would definitely want a HD transmission back to your ground station such as DJI's Light-Bridge, to see any shark like objects in the water, there are still the usual safety and privacy concerns and public acceptance considerations also. One Councillor interviewed in the article thinks the same, although mainly about UAV's primary public obstacle, Privacy:

Cr Betts also said concerns over the legality of using the drone technology had to be addressed.
“We do not want to just go out and sort of say we’re going to use a drone and then be attacked for invading people’s privacy.”

My main concern comes from the fact that the Mayor says she is in "negotiations with a drone operator". To me, that indicates an authorised UAV Operator company that is on CASA's List of UAS operator certificate holders. I have tried to do some research to determine who the prospective company may be to see if they are on the list and allowed to perform UAV flights commercially under Australian aviation rules. Also, having studied up and gaining my UAV Controller Certificate last year, I would love to get in contact with the company to see if I could get involved.

“We have had one little test with drones and we’re talking to the operator,” Cr Betts said. “We’d quite like to be a trial site for them.”

Although the article does not mention the name of the company they are discussing this "Shark Watch" program with, it does have an aerial photo supplied from "Robert Kaley". 


It's a nice shot and it could be by our own member here on DIYDrones Robert Kaley?

I have dropped him a message and eager to find out!

A google search reveals that Robert works for BoxStudio where their website video's are linked to Wellcom's vimeo channel. At the end of one of the video's, it also mentions StudioZoo as a member of the Wellcom group.

One of the other contacts on most of these company pages is Bob Street. Unfortunately the CASA List of UAS operator certificate holders does not have Bob, Robert, BoxStudio, Wellcom or StudioZoo on the approved list.

So it looks like we find ourselves in a position where a council is unaware of licensing requirements, have already had "tests" and I fear could turn this positive use of drones story into another "rouge operator" spying on beach goers field day.

Ofcourse I could be completely wrong in my assumptions here, and I haven't had a response from Robert yet, I will pass on any information as it comes to light, but even if the above is hypothetical, surely it shows that the general population is simply unaware of the rules and this has to be addressed - by who?

What are peoples thoughts on unauthorised company's seeking UAV jobs, especially in such a public location as Bondi Beach? Being a company, not a hobbyist or ignorant phantom flyer just getting a few happy snaps while back packing from Europe, surely should change our expectations of compliance?

How can both the customer (in this example a council) and the operator (for example a promotional business that see a good use for their tools and a new market outside of their daily business) be informed about the right way to do things and seek the proper approvals/licenses?

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  • Hi Rob, first of all, great shot!

    Secondly, let me know if you wanna catch up and go flying one day!

    I'm glad to hear you are not the one the council is in testing with, and as Darren pointed out, its likely the CASA website is fully up to date anyway, and all my speculation and conclusion jumping was mainly leading back to how do prospective clients learn the rules - there is a big expectation on industry to educate them, but what if a client went to a 'rogue' operator?

    In the future I can see that the general public/business will understand the basic legal and mechanical limitations of engaging in drone practice, similar to how most people would know the basics to a soccer game - there is a Referee in the middle so lets go ask him about the rules.

    I don't yet think, around here in Sydney anyway, that most people get the concept of what we can and cant do legally/commercially or even for fun (me included to some point)! There are exciting times ahead and hopefully we get to a point where opportunities like this are an every day occurrence!

    @Alex, if you are friendly with the life guards at Clovelly, they got cold beer on tap upstairs in their function room - has a great balcony too where you could sit back and perform your shark spotting duties!

  • I hope you mean 121m?

  • Hi Lachy, Thanks for getting in contact with me.

    Ive read your post and yes you are jumping to a lot of conclusions here. The Council has not approached me to do this work, i am not a licensed UAV operator and i know the rules, i would never look for work without a license and insurance etc. I have never made any money from using my hobby uav. I go and take photos in safe environments below 150 meters etc etc. The Wentworth courier asked if they could publish one of my photos (for free) as they were doing a piece on the council possibly using UAV's to spot sharks. I gave them permission and that is how my photo and name got in the paper. All in all a positive article. Thanks Rob

  • Alex
    Aerial surveliance
    allows you to see a little more, what do you think?


  • @Alex +1

  • binoculars form the north bondi RSL terrace might work too... and it has a bar ;)

  • Developer

    I know we are supposed to use drones for everything now, but to look for sharks at a beach would it not be more practical to use tethered balloons? Or even better a nice pan-tilt camera with nice zoom optics on a pole to get the height advantage without any unwanted movements? 100% crash proof, no restrictions on weight, power, operational time or weather all seem like advantages to me.

  • If you go to Bondi you deserve to be sharks lunch. Good luck doing a live shark patrol with the current AV technology. 

  • CASA's list of operators is typically out of date and they have over 100 applications for Operators Certificates pending so let's give them the benefit of doubt. If they are flying without certification CASA will let them know and possible fine them. They also won't be able to get insurance and no council is going to hire anyone to do such work without proof of public liability insurance. 

    I'm surprised that they are looking at using multi rotors for this. A plane would make much better sense given it fly much longer and is less likely to slice someone up if it crashes. It might even be possible to automate the identification of sharks with software similar to the software used to locate 'Joe' in the Outback Search and Rescue contest

  • Antidrone laws now prohibit help save lives?
    And WHO more dangerous for society - drones or dronehatters?

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