Australians Use Drone to Save the Lives of Two Swimmers

By Kim Snaith on at

There's been a world first on Australia's New South Wales coast as two swimmers in trouble have been saved by a drone. Yes, those pesky flying devices have more uses than simply annoying your neighbours with, it would seem.

The drone — unironically named 'Little Ripper' — was being test-piloted by lifeguard Jai Sheridan as the call came in of two swimmers caught in heavy surf. The new drone is part of a £250,000 government investment in better protecting its coastline. Only announced in December 2017, it seems the initiative is already paying off.

Little Ripper was equipped with a flotation device that could be dropped when it located and reached the swimmers, who then could use the float to safely get to shore. Apparently, it took just over a minute — 70 seconds — to launch the drone, reach the swimmers and drop the float. It would have taken a lifeguard around six minutes to achieve the same. A five-minute difference is massive in such cases of life or death.

It's certainly a very cool and incredibly promising use of drone technology. Now the Australian government has proof that their investment is paying off, hopefully they'll implement more along the coast — and we might see it in other coastal areas around the world, too. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Featured image: NSW Government