WA teen’s invention that could improve shark surveillance

A 19-year-old Perth law student has turned a hobby building remote controlled air planes into an invention which could slash the cost of shark surveillance.

Tom Maclaurin, from the University of Western Australia, built a fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle he calls the “Swift”.

It can conduct aerial surveillance using sensors, photographs and video at a fraction of the cost of a manned aircraft.

The Swift, which can fly much longer than many drones currently available, is two metres long and weighs six kilograms.

“(It) can be operated remotely, is lightweight and can glide safely to a stop should it lose power, instead of current drones which drop out of the sky when their battery runs out,” Mr Maclaurin said.

“There is a big demand for this kind of device across many industries and in the future I’d like to see it replace the current manned planes because it’s cheaper, easy to operate and accessible.”

Mr Maclaurin is seeking investors and collaborators in local government, agricultural industries and surf lifesaving.