First Time Ever Lifeguard-Controlled Drone Rescues Struggling Swimmers

19 January, 2018, 01:58 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Drones used to spot sharks on Australian beaches

The rescue comes as Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair announced in December an additional $430,000 of funding for the drone initiative as part of a trial to expand patrols into the state's far north.

The "Little Ripper" was launched from Lennox Head near Brisbane earlier today (Thursday 18 January) as lifeguards were readying for a training session in the use of such drones in rescue scenarios.

Along with their ability to spot swimmers in trouble and deliver lifesaving devices faster than traditional lifesaving techniques, like launching surfboards or rubber dinghies, drones are being used in Australia to spot underwater predators, like sharks and jellyfish.


"This is a world first rescue", he told reporters.

Australia is leading the use of the technology in surf lifesaving, with dozens of drones being trialled on beaches around the country.

The lifeguards about a kilometer away deployed the drone after being alerted by the teens' friends. The boys clung to the device and swum to shore. It spotted the pair within two minutes and dropped an inflatable flotation device. "It only took 70 seconds from when the Little Ripper drone was launched to when it dropped the pod into the ocean for the rescue, a task that would usually take a lifeguard up to six minutes to complete." said New South Wales (NSW) Parliamentary Secretary Ben Franklin. The government has already invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in drone technology for situations just like this and officials say the investment paid off quickly.

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