One day, they may yet turn against us, but for now, they're still our allies: A drone rescued two teenage swimmers in distress off the coast of New South Wales in Australia, according to a new report.
The NSW state government invested $430,000 in drone technology late a year ago as part of a trial on the state's north coast, in partnership with Surf Life Saving NSW.
"The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly", Sheridan said in a news release. The drone located them within 35 seconds of lift-off and dropped a flotation device which inflated as soon as it hit the water.
Two Australian beachgoers have learned first-hand how drones can be useful to lifeguards - and those they save.
Thanks to the drone technology and quick-thinking lifeguards, both men were worn out but not injured.
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"I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes".
The drone technology was able to assist the swimmers far more quickly than a lifeguard would have previously been able to, parliamentary secretary of northern NSW Ben Franklin said.
Deputy premier and minister for regional NSW John Barilaro said the state's investment had already paid off.
This incredible rescue marks a world-first for drone technology, and is a great demonstration of their potential not just for beach safety but all kinds of emergency response scenarios, be they earthquakes, hurricanes or anywhere with people in urgent need of help. Immediately the Westpac Little Ripper UAV was sent out to investigate.
First responders are increasingly using drones for critical and timely deliveries, such as the police department in Madison, Wisconsin, which has equipped its own drone fleet to carry and drop lightweight items such as a flotation device or a phone.