Guardian angels just became real…. For the first time ever, a Drone saves two swimmers.
As I blogged back in November ( https://tinyurl.com/y6wj2b3e ), coastguards in eastern Australia are currently trialling the use of an experimental aerial platform to help them spot swimmers in difficulty and if necessary, drop them a self-inflating, rescue float with a built in GPS beacon.
Well it didn’t take long to prove the life-saving potential of these drones. On January the 18th, whilst being trained at Lennox Head, south of Brisbane, coastguards were alerted to two teenage boys who had become trapped in a rip tide and being battered by 3 metre (10ft) surf.
Even fast Jet skis would have taken over 3 minutes to reach the teenagers, but the drone took just 70 seconds and dropped a flotation device which carried them to shore, exhausted but unhurt.
The “Little Ripper” experimental drone platform used in this rescue is based on a miniaturized helicopter design which enables it to stay in the air for up to 2.5 hours. This is much longer than current quad-copter designs which currently offer only a realistic maximum of 20-25 minutes flight time. Sydney’s University of Technology is working hard to develop this platform into a drone which can not only drop rescue floats, but using sophisticated AI, can spot sharks lurking near swimmers.
As the technology becomes more refined and costs drop, it won’t be long before life guards on our own shores will be equipped with similar life saving drones capable of spotting threats and dropping flotation devices. Personally, I very much look forward to the time I can go surfing, safe in the knowledge there’s a guardian angel up there keeping an eye on me.
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