Two unmanned maritime helicopters were deployed in Weihai, a coastal city of Shandong province, on Wednesday. The drone-like sea helicopters are anticipated to greatly improve the management of boat traffic and make it easier to respond quickly to accidents at sea, CCTV News reports.
At 7.33 meters long, 1.58 meters wide and 2.43 meters tall, the helicopters have a load capacity of 75 kilograms and can be remotely controlled from up to 150 kilometers away. They have a maximum range of 400 kilometers and a top speed of 150 kilometers per hour. Each is equipped with advanced facilities such as thermal imaging, long-range video transmission, and emergency supply delivery capabilities.
They can also operate under weather conditions with a wind force below level eight (wind speeds of 34 to 40 knots), making them the most advanced unmanned helicopters used in China's maritime system.
The waters off Chengshantou in Weihai, which will be monitored by the unmanned helicopters, is a crucial passage for ships to ports along the Bohai Sea and the northern part of the Yellow Sea. Each year, approximately 110,000 voyages are made by ships through these waters, while tens of thousands of fishing boats are active in the area.
The unmanned helicopters will be used for law enforcement activities, such as tracking and investigating illegal vessels, said Wang Gang, the director of the Weihai Maritime Bureau Command Center.
These drones will also play a significant role in conducting large-scale search and rescue operations and monitoring oil spills in the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea, said Wang.