Drone Saves Swimmers in Australia from Drowning – Postpones Robot Apocalypse


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If you haven’t already heard, on the 18th of January 2018 a special-purpose rescue drone dropped a flotation device down to struggling swimmers, according to the New York Times.

The rescue happened in New South Wales, Australia. A country where death can come from the inside of your shoe, so really a near drowning seems a little mundane.

Come With Me if You Want To Live

While people like Elon Musk are saying robots will be the end of us it seems at least in this case things turn out well for the squishy humans. Funnily enough, the system was already deployed as part of a training exercise, which then turned into a real rescue.

The aircraft are developed by Little Ripper and are high-grade machines. The drone dropped a special self-inflating flotation device, close to the hapless duo. Following which they could use it to make it back to shore. Here you can see it in action:

Thunderbirds Are Go!

There are two UAVs in the Little Ripper fleet. The super-impressive Vapor 55 is a military grade UAV helicopter with advanced autonomous flight. It can fly for up to an hour at a max altitude of 10 000 feet above sea level. It seems that it was one of these beastly models that was in action with the rescue.

  The next largest aircraft is also a helicopter and is called the Vario Benzen. This is another craft with a fully autonomous flight system with a laser-based terrain scanner. The Vario Benzen can fly up to three hours and uses gasoline (hence “benzen“) to achieve such stamina. It can also lift a hefty 15kg!

There are also multirotor craft known as “Mini Rippers”. The JTT T60 is a hexacopter can lift 3.5kg and fly in inclement weather. It can be fitted with the drop pods, search lights and more.

The Stella X1000 is the other Mini Ripper and this unit is an octocopter and has similar payload options as its hexacopter sibling.  The Stella is one of the new quad-arm octacopters that have two counter-rotating props per arm, which makes for both great lift and very good stability.

Faster than a Speeding Bullet

The total time for the rescue was only 70 seconds, which is several times faster than the still snappy lifeguard response time. Not to mention, it doesn’t put any additional human lives at risk.

Shark in the Water

Apart from search and rescue missions, these drones are also the first in the world that have an algorithm to spot sharks heading towards swimmers.

While you should know that shark attacks are uncommon, but such autonomous surveillance systems could prevent such rare incidents while also looking out for general swimmer safety.

Live to Swim Another Day

So I guess the bad news is that “lifeguard” should be added to the list of jobs robots will take over, but at least we can use the free time unemployment brings to swim safely.

Sydney Butler