As drone technology improves, so too do their potential uses expand. In Australia, we're already sticking them underwater to explore the Great Barrier Reef, but we're also putting them to work above the waves, rescuing swimmers. Case in point: just this Thursday, a UAV piloted by a lifeguard was used to save the lives of two swimmers in NSW.
It took only a few minutes for the Vapor 55 drone — with lifeguard Jai Sheridan at the controls — to help a pair of swimmers "struggling in the heavy surf" at Lennox Head, according to a story by SMH's Adella Beaini.
As you can see in the footage above, captured by the drone, once the swimmers are located the UAV deploys an inflatable pod, giving them something to hold onto.
While flesh-and-blood lifeguards would have arrived at the scene pretty quickly, the drone has them beat:
Ben Franklin, Parliamentary Secretary for Northern NSW, thanked the lifeguards for their incredible efforts.
"It took only 70 seconds from when the Little Ripper drone was launched to when it dropped the pod into the ocean for the rescue, a task that would usually take a lifeguard up to six minutes to complete," Mr Franklin said.
Small, adorable and a hero? I think the days of Lassie are well and truly over. Unless she learns to pilot a helicopter and, uh, return from the afterlife.