High-tech drones help to study dangerous surf
USING drones to capture birds-eye videos of surf on the Sunshine Coast is all in a day's study for Pt Vernon man Ashley Rummell.
The 20-year-old is using the footage taken from the hovering aircraft to map out parts of the ocean floor there - it is all part of his Bachelor of Science Honours studies at the University of the Sunshine Coast.
It is the first time drones, rather than mounted cameras, have been used to collect depth of surf data for such a task.
Working out the information captured in the videos recorded is no problem - a computer program extracts the wave period and length from the imagery to crunch the numbers.
The process is safer than the alternative.
"Currently the only way (to measure surf depth) is to go into the surf on boats, jet skis or kayaks and use depth echo sounders or surveying poles, which can dangerous in rough conditions," Ashley said.
The drones are flown for 10 minute intervals in a single spot during calm conditions, with marked-out points on the ground used to calibrate the locations, he said.
Ashely's honours thesis to map the ocean floor is part of a collaborative project with Sunshine Coast Council.