Drone saves Aussie swimmers from sea in world first

A drone rescued two swimmers off an Australian beach on Thursday, a world first for the fast-developing technology that seems perfectly suited to saving lives at sea, authorities said.
The rescue took place as life savers at Lennox Head, a beach popular with surfers south of the city of Brisbane, were preparing for a training session on using drones to pull swimmers to safety.
The practice turned into a real rescue when someone noticed that two men swimming outside safety flags were in trouble in a three-metre (10-foot) swell, the government said in a statement.
Lifeguards launched the drone, steered it towards the swimmers and dropped a “rescue pod” into the water, where it expanded so the swimmers could grab it and swim to shore.
“Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this,” said John Barilaro, the deputy premier of New South Wales state.
The rescue took just 70 seconds.The two swimmers were exhausted but unharmed.
Barilaro said the state government had invested $343,000 in a trial of drone technology in December.
“I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes,” lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public.”
Other than a little weary from their experience the pair were reportedly unharmed.
Along with their ability to spot swimmers in trouble and deliver life saving devices faster than traditional lifesaving techniques, like launching surfboards or rubber dinghies, drones are being used in Australia to spot underwater predators like sharks and jellyfish.
Artificial intelligence is being developed using thousands of images captured by a drone camera to build an algorithm that can identify different ocean objects.
The software can differentiate between sea creatures, like sharks which it can recognise with more than 90 per cent accuracy, compared to about 16 per cent with the naked eye. — Agencies