Westpac Little Ripper drone rescues two teens caught in heavy surf
A WORLD FIRST, AND IT HAPPENED RIGHT HERE IN AUSTRALIA.
NEW SOUTH WALES taxpayer money seems to have been put to good use when the State Government decided to invest in a drone to assist lifesavers in their work. On its first day, the drone (or unmanned helicopter) — christened the Westpac Little Ripper — was taken on a test ride by lifeguards at Lennox Head, but it turned into a real rescue shortly after. While testing the drone, the lifesavers were alerted to two young boys caught in turbulent surf with 10ft swells off the coast in northern NSW. The quadcopter, carrying a rescue pod, was steered towards the flailing teens. The inflatable pod was dropped into the water near the boys, who were then able to make their way to shore.
The rescue took about 70 seconds which, on a normal day, would have taken lifeguards a few minutes to achieve. Using an algorithm to recognise the biggest threat in our waters, the Little Ripper is also part of a shark-spotting program being rolled out across Australian beaches this year.