Drone saves lives down under

Friday, January 19, 2018 - 17:37

The world’s first rescue by an unmanned aircraft which has been caught on camera took place in NSW, Australia yesterday.

Two teenage boys, aged 15 and 17 respectively were struggling with the strong tides and were losing their battle to stay afloat in the heavy surf off of the coast of Lennox Head in New South Wales, Australia.

ABC News reported that a bystander alerted life guards and supervisor, Jai Sheridan spotted the swimmer about 2,300 feet offshore and launched the drone flying it directly over the stranded teens.

"I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes,” Sheridan told The Sydney Morning Herald. “On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public."

The UAV then deployed an inflatable pod which the teens clutched onto and swam back to shore. According to Ben Franklin, Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, the rescue could have taken up to 6 minutes for on duty lifeguards to complete, whereas the drone had launched the safety pod within 70 seconds.

"This is a world-first rescue," Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said. "Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this."

The UAV, known as "The Little Ripper" was unveiled and taken out of the box earlier that morning, part of the government’s nearly $344,000 investment in drone technology.

"This was an extraordinary rescue with the very best possible outcome,” Franklin said.