World News

Drone deployed to save swimmers from drowning in world first

Drone deployed to save swimmers from drowning in world first

Ben Franklin, parliamentary secretary for Northern New South Wales, said the whole process only took 70 seconds, compared to the six minutes it usually takes a lifeguard to rescue swimmers.

The lifeguards about a kilometer away deployed the drone after being alerted by the teens' friends.

It spotted the pair within two minutes and dropped an inflatable flotation device.

But they were eventually able to use the contraption to make it safely back to shore in the world's first rescue of its kind.

"The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly", said Mr Sheridan, the 2017 state Lifeguard of the Year.

One of the boys, Monty Greenslade, told Channel Seven it was "definitely a sigh of relief" when the drone reached them.

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"This is a world-first rescue", he said. The video shows the drone releasing a flotation device, which the two teenagers swam toward and clung onto as they are pounded by waves.

The New South Wales government invested A$430,000 ($340,000) a year ago in a fleet of drones to patrol for sharks in the northern beaches of the state.

Mr Sheridan said the difference in response time was critical.

The drone, known officially as the Little Ripper, is part of a new generation of search-and-rescue technology made by the Westpac Little Ripper group in which the Australian state of New South Wales has invested to help protect its beaches, according to Surf Life Saving.

The rescue happened about 11.30am, as lifeguards were preparing for a training session to familiarise themselves with the drones.

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".


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