There are no atheists in foxholes, so they say. And soon, there may be no drone haters in dicey lineups either. Not as long as the drone rescue is a possibility in the surf.
Not long ago, I was camped for a couple days along the Big Sur coast, which was rendered nearly empty by road slides cutting off access to the place. A beautiful sunset surf session with just me and a friend was nearly ruined by the buzzing of a drone hovering just overhead, piloted from the beach by a well-meaning observer, no doubt, but it nearly killed the moment.
Now, had me or my friend been in a spot of trouble, hurried to sea by a demented rip current, say, and that drone had been armed with a lifesaving floatie? Different story.
A few days ago, at Lennox Head, NSW, Australia, this was reality for two distressed swimmers.
Beachgoers noticed the the pair struggling against large surf, clearly in trouble. They notified lifeguards who just so happened to be testing a new lifesaving drone called, “The Little Ripper,” equipped with flotation devices. The lifeguards piloted the little craft above the swimmers, and deployed the payload of a strange-looking float, which the swimmers eagerly climbed aboard before they began kicking their way to safety.
"I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes," Lifeguard Jai Sheridan told the Sydney Morning Herald. "On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public."
The swimmers eventually reached the beach in safety, much quicker than they likely would have without the drone.
Considering how successful the test case was, don't be surprised to see these little lifesavers buzzing around more crowded beaches worldwide.