MarineLink has a short post about a European effort to use networked Unmanned Air and Surface Vehicles (UAVs and USVs) to do SAR. I don’t find their particular scenario persuasive, but there probably are roles for these systems.
Unmanned systems have some potential advantages over Manned assets although they are unlikely to ever replace them.
- It may be possible to have UAVs more widely distributed than manned CG Air assets.
- UAVs operating from SAR stations might also be able to get into the air more quickly than manned aircraft because they do not have to contend with other air traffic that may be operating on the field.
- At least for some applications they may be cheaper to operate.
Frankly, I had thought of unmanned systems as primarily Law Enforcement assets, but the Coast Guard is looking as the possibility of locating personnel in the water using small UAVs.
I have a hard time visualizing a use for Unmanned Surface Vessels (USV), but perhaps there might be a benefit in dropping a USV to a distressed vessel or person(s) in the water either from a fixed wing or a UAV.
UAVs might be used:
- For communications relay.
- To deliver medication or medical equipment.
- Small UAVs might be used to confirm the location of vessels in distress before other units arrive.
- To deliver pumps, communications equipment, or other even inflatable liferafts.
Any Other Ideas?
Any other potential uses?