Liz Lane

Drone Drops Raft in Rough Surf, Rescues Teens in Australia

The 16- and 17-year-old boys showed signs of fatigue after reaching shore but were otherwise uninjured

Two teenagers struggling in rough surf off the coast of New South Wales, Australia, Thursday were able to swim to shore after a new rescue drone dropped a life raft from the sky.

Officials deployed the Lifesaver drone after beachgoers noticed the pair was caught in 9-ft. swells, according to a statement from Westpac Little Ripper, which made the drone. The device located the boys within 35 seconds and dropped a flotation device, which they used to swim back to the beach.

Westpac Little Ripper is calling it "the world-first drone rescue."

Video of the incident shows the boys wading in the rough tide as the drone drops a bright yellow raft in between them. After they reached shore with the flotation, the 16- and 17-year-old boys showed signs of fatigue but were otherwise uninjured, according to Westpac.

New South Wales announced its use of the drones in December, saying in a statement that the government spent more than $340,000 on the new technology. 

The government said at the time that nine beaches would have devices with "shark spotter" technology and two drones would be equipped with flotation devices.

"This is the best in drone technology and will not only protect against sharks but also allow our lifesavers to help someone in trouble," said New South Wales Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who added the devices would give lifeguards a live feed of the beach and alert them to potential dangers.

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