We are seeing an angry ocean from an eye in the sky. The waves break and turn, and two young people try to swim through the turbulence. All this happens in the opening moments of a dramatic video that shows the first of its kind, a rescue with drones along the coast of New South Wales in Australia.
Lifeguard group Surf Life Saving NSW posted the video on Twitter that shows the view from their Little Ripper UAV, as it locates two teenagers who fight in the waves and deploys an inflatable rescue capsule so they can hold on. They were able to reach the coast by their own power while holding the capsule.
"Fortunately, the couple escaped unscathed from their ordeal, as well as showing signs of fatigue," says Surf Life Saving.
The little ripper is part of an aerial surveillance program that uses flying drones to observe the waves and activity of sharks. The drones are equipped with technologyand a built-in megaphone alerts swimmers to the danger. The drone pilot can also visually monitor the swimmers and look for signs of distress. The folding Inflatable rescue capsule of the Little Ripper can support up to four people if necessary.
The rescue occurred while lifeguards from the Lifeguard Service of Australia were preparing for a training session for the Little Ripper. Someone on the beach noticed that the swimmers were having problems with the strong waves and the training session quickly became a real situation.
"I was able to launch it, fly it to the location and release everything in about one to two minutes," said lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan, who piloted the drone. "On a normal day, our lifeguards would take a few more minutes to reach the members of the public."
Westpac Little Ripper drones are being adopted in Australia. Surf Life Saving describes the rescue this week that involves the inflatable as "a real first real life situation".