An Australian lifeguard drone successfully saved two teenagers from drowning by dropping an inflatable rescue pod.
According to the BBC, “The swimmers, aged 15-17, had got into difficulties off the coast of Lennox Head, New South Wales (NSW),” when a “member of the public spotted them struggling in heavy surf about 700m (2,300ft) offshore.”
“Lifesavers instantly sent the drone to drop an inflatable rescue pod, and the pair made their way safely to shore,” they reported, adding, “The NSW state government revealed in December that it had invested A$430,000 ($340,000 / £247,000) in a fleet of drones. While some are designed to spot sharks, others feature flotation pods, alarms and loudspeakers.”
Lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan, who piloted the drone, called the incident “unreal,” declaring, “The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today, it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly.”
In 2015, it was reported that drones would start patrolling the coasts of New South Wales in an effort to protect people from shark attacks.
“There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers,” proclaimed Niall Blair, the New South Wales minister for primary industries, at the time. “We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find a long term-term solution to keep our beaches safe.”