In Lennox Head, Australia, the world’s first drone rescue took place when lifeguards were able to use a Westpac Little Ripper LifeSaver drone to deploy an inflatable rescue pod to two stranded teenagers caught in a rip current from powerful surf conditions.
Drones are already capable of some pretty impressive things, and as drone technology advances and they’re able to carry larger and larger payloads, we’re going to see them continue to be used in new and unique situations, like saving lives at popular beaches and surf spots.
Government officials, including New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro, called the incident a “world first” and emphasized that it was significantly quicker to get to the location using a drone than it would have been with lifeguards swimming out into the surf.
The drone, a Stella X1000 8-rotor UAV from InnoFlight, was equipped to carry special lightweight You Little Beauty (ULB) lifesaving pods, like the water activated personal floatation device used in this rescue. The pods are specifically designed to meet drone payload limitations, and automatically operate when deployed by the drone.
What’s even crazier is that lifeguards were being trained on how to use the Little Ripper LifeSaver system when they were told about the drowning boys, so they were able to deploy the drone into a real lifesaving situation almost immediately.
Here’s a video of the dramatic rescue, as captured by the drone’s onboard camera: