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Flying Torch Drones To Boost Offshore Wind Safety?

Posted: 12/10/2017

With darker nights now creeping ever closer, those taking GWO working at heights courses will need to be even more careful than ever while at work. But it seems that there might be something of a secret weapon that could help people in certain sectors work at night and still remain as productive as possible, all thanks to the team at Direct Line for Business.

A team of researchers have been working on a project called Fleetlights, flying torch drones that can swoop in at the touch of a button to provide much-needed light to support at height workers during months with fewer hours of light.

Research from the organisation has found that construction companies in the UK lose upwards of £265 million annually because of the lack of light at this time of year – which will mean that workers may have to down tools at some point, simply due to the lack of light.

In 2016, employees worked 37.9 hours a week on average during the summer but only 37.2 hours a week in winter (October to March). This means that over the course of the winter, 20 hours and 22 minutes of working time in total was lost per employee – almost three full days’ work.

Matt Boatwright, Head of Direct Line for Business, said: “New innovations, such as Fleetlights, which is a prototype service that uses a fleet of flying torch drones, responsive to movement and controlled via a bespoke app, could potentially make the construction industry more productive.

“Just a few minutes’ extra work per day can have a positive impact on a project, and without the burden of poor light, the construction industry could complete contracts faster and increase their business’ earning potential as a result.”

Fleetlights and its drones have already been helping the Caister Lifeboat Association carry out successful search and rescue missions. Caister is one of the only offshore lifeboat organisations that are independent of the RNLI and it’s found in the past that its missions have been somewhat restricted by visibility. But these drones can enhance vision both at night and during the day, so more rescues can be carried out successfully as a result.

The offshore wind industry and others could also soon benefit if they decide to make use of this particular initiative. It also sounds very simple to use – all you do is utilise an accompanying app and request a Fleetlights drone when you need one. An available one will be dispatched and you can easily dismiss them by tapping the app again.

It’s a beta service at the moment, but the aim is to really drive improvements in both human utility and road safety, preventing problems from arising. People could also benefit by using them when walking home after working at night if there aren’t any streetlights showing the way. Simply get your phone out, tap a button or two and then enjoy your own little floodlight, showing you where to go.