Worksafe NZ testing 'world-first' UAV drone initiative to reduce vehicle-related farm injuries

Worksafe NZ testing 'world-first' UAV drone initiative to reduce vehicle-related farm injuries

Since 2006 incidents involving vehicles have contributed to over 85% of on-farm fatalities.

Worksafe NZ is testing out a world-first initiative looking into whether UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) drones can reduce the amount of time that farmers spend on their quad bikes.

The pilot has been aptly named 'Ride the Sky' and is being trialled by 15 mostly sheep and beef farms located in the North Island that run quadbikes and/or side-by-sides on their farm. 

Noa Woolloff from Worksafe NZ told REX Weekend hosts Hamish McKay and Rebecca Greaves said regular farm tasks that have previously required some sort of vehicle could become more efficient and safe through the use of UAV drones.

"The opportunity with UAV technology is pretty promising here," he said.

"If we are thinking about farmers who might have to do mustering, check on broken fences, check on water troughs, instead of taking the quad bike out to do those tasks there is the potential to use drone technology."

The pilot will analyse each farm's vehicle usage and behaviour over a 12-month period, through a GPS tracking system called FleetPin, to establish the baseline of data for the pilot, before the farm implements the drones for a 12-month period.

As well as investigating whether drone usage can decrease on farm vehicle usage, Woolloff said additional health and safety benefits will also be analysed through interviews with farmers around possible reduction in fatigue, increases in productivity and maintenance costs like petrol for quad bikes.

"We're keen to take a really holistic view into this pilot to see what wider benefits there could be."

Formal training will be provided for farmers through a Civil Aviation Authority Verified Training Provider, RPA skills who will not only teach the farmers how to use the drone but also the regulations around flying a drone.

Listen to the full chat between Noa Woolloff from Worksafe NZ, Rebecca Greaves and Hamish McKay above.

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