A life-saving drone that successfully saved two teens struggling at sea malfunctioned and crashed just two days after the world-first mission.
Last week Commercial Drone Professional reported that when two boys, aged between 15 and 17, got into trouble while swimming off the coast of New South Wales (NSW) in Australia.
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.
It has now been reported that the Westpac Little Ripper, which forms part of the NSW Government’s strategy to improve costal lifesaving with drone technology, malfunctioned and crashed during a training exercise two days after the boys’ rescue.
The Daily Mail reported that the unmanned system was being trailed to spot sharks and rescue swimmers when crashed bolts sheared off a rotor on the NSW’s north coast over the weekend.
According to the publication, Surf Life Saving NSW spokeswoman, Donna Wishart, said: “The drone has been inspected and is being returned to the manufacturer for repair or replacement. Early investigations indicate that bolts may have sheared on one of the engine casings.”
“All drones in service have been checked to ensure they are airworthy and the malfunction is not visibly present in other units. Surf Life Saving NSW has been involved in trials and operations of drones supported by the Ripper Group for two years and we are continually exploring the capabilities of this new technology in a range of operational settings and scenarios.”
The NSW Government recently committed $430,000 (£247,000) towards the development of drone technology for costal applications. As a result of the investment nine beaches on the NSW North Coast are testing the systems.
Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW, John Barilaro, 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.”