Drones have many uses, but recently they have been used to rescue two teenage boys that were caught in rough Australian waters well over 2,000 feet off shore. As they struggled with the waves, lifeguard Jai Sheridan noticed them and powered up their new, lifesaving drone. The drone flew to their aid and dropped off a flotation device, effectively saving their lives. They grabbed onto it and were able to swim safely back to shore. Both boys were unharmed.

The entire endeavor — from Sheridan noticing that they were in danger to them clutching the flotation device — only took around 70 seconds. That is unprecedented speed when it comes to saving a life out in the waves, as up until now a lifeguard would have to manually swim or ride a boat or jet-ski of some kind all the way out before they could be of assistance. That could take precious minutes, and a drowning person might be underwater and prove difficult to find by then.

 

 

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The drone is called “The Little Ripper” and dropping flotation devices is not its only function. It’s also designed to spot sharks, and is uses a sophisticated algorithm to learn and recognize various objects in the water, to include sharks, swimmers, surfboards and more. Quick detection could be key in alerting swimmers and having them exit the area.

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Drones are widely known for their controversial military use; they can be used for surveillance and are frequently employed to track down and kill high value targets. Many believe that making life and death decisions from the comfort and non-threatening environment of a military base back home is too much of a disconnect from the real world, devaluing the lives of the bystanders that might get caught in the crossfire. Others would argue that it is an invaluable tool that has saved not only the lives of many service members on the ground, but also those that the targets aimed to hurt when the target would have otherwise been free to do as they wished, had the drone not taken them out.

But as seen above, drones are finding their way into other facets of society. Hobbyists use have used drones for personal videos all over the world; filmmakers outside of the U.S. use drones frequently, as it is infinitely cheaper than renting a helicopter to get good aerial footage. Amazon is developing a delivery system that uses drones to bring packages to your front door, and aid organizations have even begun using it to deliver blood to rural places like Rwanda. Now it seems that lifeguards are taking advantage of this groundbreaking technology and using it to their advantage as well.

 

Featured image and video courtesy of YouTube.