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Publisher

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

Abstract

The United States possesses 12,383 miles of ocean shoreline across all territorial boarders, which includes the U.S. mainland, Alaska, Hawaii, and non-state possessions. The vast shorelines offer great opportunities for both recreational and commercial exploration. However, the shoreline environment also presents a challenging and ever-present public safety hazard: drowning in open water. To combat the drowning threat, the United States Coast Guard and local governments along the nation’s shorelines have developed protection measures to prevent drowning. These protection measures include beach lifeguards, rescue boats, and manned rescue aircraft. Yet 50-75% of the approximately 4,000 annual drowning deaths in the United States happen in oceans and other open waters (Branche & Stewart, 2001). This paper discusses the implementation of a new tool to protect visitors of the United States’ near-shore ocean waters: small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). The contained study focuses on how sUAS can be used for near-shore ocean rescue, the legality of the proposed solution, and how the population of Volusia County, Florida views the government using the technology for public safety use, and more specifically ocean rescue. The study postulates that the sUAS can be used for a quicker aviation asset response than manned aircraft during rescues and fly in non-favorable conditions. The proposed solution also appears to be legal, and possess public favor.

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