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AMP Tomorrow Maker Steve Bancroft clearly remembers the moment he decided to invent his sea search-and-rescue device.
It was July 2014 and the off-duty policeman was sitting on a Central Coast beach watching rescue teams search for five-year-old Chayce Kofe. It had been more than a day since the boy was pulled into the ocean by a freak wave but there was still no sign of him.
What made the scene even more distressing for Steve was his belief that despite their best efforts, the team was looking in the wrong place.
“I had been involved in many air and sea rescues and know they can be very time- and labour-intensive as well as costly―some running into hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
“Critically, long searches also take a huge toll on the family and friends of the person. I just knew there must be a better way to locate a person lost at sea than just relying on aerial searches and putting dye in the water to track currents.”
Steve’s light-bulb moment came when he was eating fish and chips by the water. He threw two chips in: one sank, the other floated away. He then realised when a body lands in the water it does not necessarily float.
“It struck me that we need to track the data from below the surface as well as search from above.”
His subsequent invention, The Chase, is a semi-submersible object that simulates a body in the water. It uses existing GPS and camera technology and because it can be tracked online, can work around the clock and in dangerous conditions.
Steve is using his AMP Tomorrow Fund grant to help develop The Chase, with the hope it will soon become standard equipment for fishing trawlers, cargo ships, cruise liners and ocean-going vessels, as well as search and rescue teams along the coast.
He is now working with a search and rescue team to test and refine The Chase. And his invention has also received attention from a French tidal expert who is keen to provide guidance.
“I truly believe the quick deployment of The Chase in any ocean-based scenario will increase the likelihood of a person being located swiftly with minimal resources,” said Steve.
Learn more about Steve’s project and how he’s aiming to prevent drowning deaths in Australia in his AMP Tomorrow Fund video (1:00).
Who our AMP Tomorrow Makers for 2015?
After assessing thousands of applications from innovative and talented Australians, we will announce this year’s AMP Tomorrow Fund grant recipients on 19 November.
AMP’s Tomorrow Fund offers individuals of all ages and interests the chance to apply for grants of up to $100,000 to help fulfil long-cherished goals. To learn more about AMP Foundation’s individual grants program or to join our 2016 registration list, visit ampstomorrowfund.com.au.
Stay tuned for the upcoming announcement of AMP’s Tomorrow Makers 2015. Follow the news on Twitter @ampfoundation and at facebook.com/ampaustralia. And as usual, we’ll keep you posted in upcoming News & insights stories.