Lifeguard-Piloted Drone Rescues Swimmers in Australia in First-Ever Drone Rescue

It cut the rescue time from six minutes to two.

For the first time ever, a drone piloted by a lifeguard rescued two swimmers in Australia on Jan. 18.

Off Lennox Head, New South Wales, lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan deployed a Little Ripper drone that dropped a flotation device to the two swimmers to perform the rescue.

And of course, since it was a drone performing the world’s first-ever drone rescue, it also filmed the entire mission.

“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 incredibly efficient rescue happened during a lifeguard training session in which they were to familiarizing themselves with drone equipment that is part of the NSW government’s $16 million shark mitigation strategy. $430,000 of that investment is going towards drone technology -- it certainly proved its worth with this rescue.

The two swimmers were able to reach the rescue pod and make their way to shore, where they were met by lifeguards. Both swimmers showed only signs of fatigue.

As the use of this sort of technology expands to other areas of Australia and other countries, lifeguards rescuing ocean-goers with drones will likely become a recurring event in the future.

The drone dropping a floatation device to the two swimmers. Photo: Facebook

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