16:03 GMT26 September 2020
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    Australia reports what is believed to be the first ever use of drones in an emergency rescue of swimmers.

    A couple of swimmers were  saved from the raging waves in New South Wales, thanks to a swift reaction by a rescue team and a cargo drone, Channel News Asia reports.

    The flying machine was  used to carry a lifesaving device to the distressed swimmers.

    "I was able to launch it, fly it to the location and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes," lifeguard supervisor Jai Sheridan told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

    "On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public," he said.

    Drones have been used by Australian lifeguard services for quite some time, but before now they were mostly used to spot swimmers and underwater predators like sharks and jellyfish. The recent incident is believed to be the first-ever life-saving operation on water using drones in the world.

    Apart from drones, the lifeguard service uses more conventional inflatable boats and even more exotic surf boards to reach the distressed swimmers in time.

    According to Channel News Asia, tech companies are working on a specialized AI-based image recognition software that would allow the automation of drone coastal surveillance through computer recognition of various underwater objects.

    Until recently, Australia relied heavily on shark nets to protect people in the water, but they were abandoned last year over concerns that the nets damage maritime life while providing as much protection as any other available deterrent, the website reports.

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    Tags:
    rescue, drone, Australia
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