- Charl Jooste
Teens Rescued at Sea by New Drone Project
Video: YouTube user Arab News
Drones have been used for a number of humanitarian and aid relief applications with great success but the recent dramatic story of a drone coming to the rescue of two teenage boys distressed out at sea is further proof of the amazing applications of drone technology.
The incident took place Australia and the lifeguards who were, at the time, busy learning how to use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) in their duties, were alerted by someone on the beach of the two teens experiencing major problems while caught in massive waves in the Far North Coast area in New South Wales.
The dramatic rescue was perfectly captured by the drone camera and the video makes for riveting viewing. This is believed to be the first sea rescue by a drone and given the incredible success of the spontaneous rescue, I am sure this will become a popular method to improve the effectiveness of lifeguard duties.
The two young men got caught about 2,300 feet out at sea and were struggling to get back in. Fortunately, their distress was spotted and the drone, nicknamed "Little Ripper" was at hand. It took a mere 70 seconds to reach the struggling swimmers and it dropped a self-inflating rescue pod onto which the lads could safely cling onto after unsuccessfully battling the pounding waves for some time.
Jai Sheridan was the lifeguard supervisor on the day and told reporters "I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes. On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public."
Once the two young men, aged 15 and 17, had the relief and security of the rescue pod, they managed to make it safely ashore. They were tired and shaken by the experience but otherwise in good health. This was all thanks to the fast deployment of the brand new drone.
In situations like this, every second is critical. An extra few minutes and the story might not have had such a happy ending.
The Australian government has made a significant investment in drone technology for these types of situations. The drone had only been out of the box for a few hours and already proved how efficient and effective the concept is.
John Barilaro, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW said "This is a world-first rescue," adding "Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this."
This is yet another groundbreaking development in humanitarian and lifesaving applications for which drones can play a significant role. The fact that the investment and project were validated while the operators had just started learning how to apply the technology just illustrates the incredible potential for future sea rescues and similar missions.