Two swimmers have been saved by a drone after getting stranded in powerful surf off the coast of Australia.
The Little Ripper drone was sent to the rescue of the boys, aged 16 and 17, after they became trapped in 10ft waves in the rough seas of Lennox Head, New South Wales.
A member of the public spotted the stricken youths, prompting the drone to be launched to their location. It then dropped a life raft which was used by the boys to get back to safety.
“I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes,” said lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan.
“On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public.”
The drones are equipped with technology which helps them spot swimmers in the waves.
“Never before has a drone fitted with a flotation device been used to rescue swimmers like this,” said John Barilaro, deputy premier of New South Wales.
The unmanned aerial vehicles are also being used to to spot underwater predators such as sharks and jellyfish, thanks to software that allows recognition of the dangerous creatures with 90% accuracy – compared to 16% with the naked eye.
Use of the devices will help stop the use of nets, which damage marine life, off Australian shores.
The teenagers are said to be unharmed after their ordeal.