Drone deployed to save swimmers from drowning in world first

Two teenage boys were rescued while struggling in the sea by a new lifesaving unmanned aerial vehicle in a world first.

The boys, aged between 15 and 17, got into difficulties while swimming off the coast of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia, the BBC has reported.

After the two boys were spotted by a member of the public, the Little Ripper UAV with an inflatable pod was deployed to reach the swimmers.

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The UAV was able to get to the teens three times quicker than conventional lifesaving methods.

The lifesaving system dropped an inflatable flotation pod which allowed the pair to make their way safely to shore.

Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW, John Barilaro, told the broadcaster: “Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this.”

It was reported by the Sydney Morning Herald that lifeguard supervisor, Jai Sheridan, who was piloting the device when the alarm was raised, said: “The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today, it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly.”

The rescue mission comes a month on from the announcement that nine beaches on the NSW North Coast would have drones with Shark Spotter technology.

Barilaro explained the drones would give surf lifesavers live vision back to the beach and alert them to any potential hazards.

He said: “This is the best in drone technology and will not only protect against sharks but also allow our lifesavers to help someone in trouble.”
The NSW Government has committed $430,000 (£247,000) towards the drone technology.

Tags : australiaDronedrone lifesavingLifesaving dronelifesaving UAVrescue
Emma Calder

The author Emma Calder

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