A drone rescued two swimmers from a NSW beach yesterday in a mission believed to be the first of its type.
Lifeguards from Surf Life Saving NSW were at Lennox Head, on the state’s north coast, preparing for a drone training session about 11.30am yesterday when a call came through of two distressed swimmers in a three-metre swell.
The drone pilot was able to locate the swimmers within minutes of the initial alert. He dropped a rescue pod containing an automatically inflating flotation device to the swimmers, who were able to cling to it. They made their own way to shore where they were met by lifeguards. A camera in the drone filmed the rescue.
The Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver drone was a modified DJI M600 electric six-rotor type with a maximum take-off weight of 15 kg, including a 7 kg payload, a top speed of 34 kt (64 km/h) and a take-off wind limit of 20 kt. The M600 Pro is listed at $A7899 on the DJI website. The rescue pod it dropped also contained an electromagnetic shark repellent, whistle, and sea anchor.
Westpac Little Ripper chief executive Eddie Bennet said the rescue followed three years of intensive development.
‘(It) clearly illustrates the benefit of this cutting-edge technology in such a time-critical emergency situation. It works and Australia is leading the world in this technology’, Mr Bennet said.