Video footage has been released showing one of Australia’s lifeguard drones successfully helping to rescue two swimmers who found themselves caught in rough seas in New South Wales.
The drone, part of Australia’s ‘Little Ripper’ fleet of lifesaving drones, was being used as part of a training exercise when a call came in that two swimmers were reportedly struggling in the heavy surf.
Within minutes of the alert supervisor Jai Sheridan was able to find the two swimmers, hover above them and then deploy the inflatable life raft.
According to Sheridan he was able to launch it, fly it to the location and then deploy the flotation aid in around 70 seconds. Normally it would take up to 6 minutes for human lifeguards to respond.
The drone in question was a Stella X1000 UAV, designed for quick launching, maximum speed and then delivery of a payload, in this case an instantly inflating flotation device.
In addition to the Stella, New South Wales also have access to a fleet of different drones all capable of performing different tasks.
The flagship of their fleet is a state-of-the-art Vapor 55 military-grade drone developed by Phoenix Systems. This £180,000 drone has one of the most advanced autopilot systems available for UAVs and is powerful enough to reach an altitude of 10,000ft above sea level.
The Vapor 55 is equipped with a camera that uses specialised software designed to recognise sharks. Once sighted the drone will then check the surrounding area for any human activity and report the sighting back to the lifeguards.
As well as being a lookout, the drone’s cargo can carry multiple ‘pods’ from essential life-saving equipment including an inflatable raft and first aid kit to a deployable ‘shark repellent’.