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Australia Technology

Lifesaving Drone Makes First Rescue In Australia (yahoo.com) 45

Zorro shares a report from Yahoo News: A pair of Australian swimmers on Thursday became the first people to be rescued in the ocean by a drone when the aerial lifesaver dropped a safety device to distressed teens caught in rough seas. In what is believed to be a world-first drone surf rescue, two boys on Thursday got caught in three-meter (10-foot) swells while swimming off Lennox Head in New South Wales, near the border with Queensland. Beachgoers onshore raised the alarm to the lifeguards who then alerted the drone pilot, and the aerial lifesaver was deployed in moments.

Along with their ability to spot swimmers in trouble and deliver life saving devices faster than traditional lifesaving techniques, like launching surfboards or rubber dinghies, drones are being used in Australia to spot underwater predators like sharks and jellyfish. Artificial intelligence is being developed using thousands of images captured by a drone camera to build an algorithm that can identify different ocean objects. The software can differentiate between sea creatures, like sharks which it can recognize with more than 90 percent accuracy, compared to about 16 percent with the naked eye.

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Lifesaving Drone Makes First Rescue In Australia

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  • One water rescue by autonomous aerial vehicles saves two lives, and there have undoubtedly been more stranded-asshole, mountain-climber/hiker rescues, versus, how many targeted assassinations?
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Think of all the jobs for locals who did maths and can now help with 5 eye missions.
  • Artificial intelligence is being developed using thousands of images captured by a drone camera to build an algorithm that can identify different ocean objects. The software can differentiate between sea creature...

    There we go, AI crap again! (Not AI) ;-)

    • Hey! They're doing pretty good given they have to stop and write their own press releases...
    • by jblues ( 1703158 )
      There they go calling it intelligence again! For a a specialised application and not a general intelligence at all. Its just so counterfeit, synthetic, manufactured . . . bah! Its artificial, damnit!
    • Nonono. Anything with a computer is AI.
  • by Scoldog ( 875927 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @09:47PM (#55957345)
    They trialled this on Bondi Rescue a while back. They raced the drone, a lifeguard on a board and a lifeguard on the jetski. The jetski won. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
    • Not only did the jetski win, the victim can be taken back to shore with the jetski. All the drone can do is drop a floatation device that the victim must catch and use to keep afloat while real help arrives. If they miss, too bad, it only has one shot.

      The person on the jetski can also help people who have started drowning and are unconscious.

      • by Scoldog ( 875927 )
        Yeah, I thought the same thing when I watched this episode. However, I reckon the drone, depending on its battery range, would do be good for shark spotting. It would also be cheaper than calling out the chopper all the time.
        • Yes.
          It's never going to be a replacement for a lifeguard though. If would always need to be sent out in addition to a lifeguard as it can't actually bring anyone back to shore. Even if it deployed a harpoon, it wouldn't have enough thrust to keep itself in the air and pull them back at the same time.

          • You don't actually need to bring most people back to shore. Most people drown due to physical exhaustion trying to fight the ocean. If you give them a flotation device they can rest a little and recompose and then make their own way to the shore, as which is what happened in this case.

            Even if they do need retrieval, the flotation device can buy a lot of time for a life saver to respond.

        • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
          Design a really, really big drone and fly one lifeguard out? A big flying version of the jetski but with just one lifeguard.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @12:52AM (#55958217) Homepage

        You could of course do drones on rotation, so one is always up in rescue position and of course they would be enormously cheaper. So race ignores logical application and the drone could have a strong cord attached to the flotation device and ensure the flotation device is delivered to the person being rescued, whilst a board makes it's way out there. Depending upon the power output of the drone, it could also tow the person holding onto the flotation device back into shore. Now if you have three on rotation, so one is always up in the air, all three can be deployed at the same time if necessary, more than one rescue at a time, and nearby beaches.

        • Sounds very expensive to me.
          Half a dozen drones, a hundred or so batteries, a crew of pilots, a fully stocked set of spare parts. And a new drone no one has invented yet that won't fall out the sky and kill some poor swimmer when something fails while it's hovering over their head "patrolling".

          I still don't really see the need for this. If you want to patrol for sharks, a drone with fixed wings is much more efficient and safer.

    • by drago177 ( 150148 ) on Thursday January 18, 2018 @10:50PM (#55957717)

      It's obvious the jetski is by far more useful. But if it's a speed test, this doesn't seem fair. 1) They made the drone operator run from the watch tower 100ft to waterline. 2) The jetski was sitting there 8ft from water, 3) with a 4-wheeler 4) and a driver waiting to help him launch.

    • I think where the drone would beat the jetski would be when they have difficulties locating the victim. There have been other Bondi Rescue episodes showing the rescuers searching the ocean for a person who, for all they knew, may have dropped below the surface. Even in the cases when dropping a floatation device would be of minimal value, being able to provide guidance to other lifeguards would be invaluable.

    • So, they knew WHERE they must go and the FASTEST won!!!!! Unbelievable!!!!

      Now, on MORE REAL SCENARIOS, where you don't have a f*c*ing idea WHERE YOUR TARGET IS... How would win?

      Fastest or the one with WIDEST POINT OF VIEW?

    • by bgarcia ( 33222 ) on Friday January 19, 2018 @07:40AM (#55959329) Homepage Journal
      The jetski won because:
      • There were no 10 foot swells - the sea was as calm as could be in that "test". So the jetski could operate at full speed.
      • The person in trouble was easily visible from shore. In 10 foot swells, a drone will have an easier time spotting a person in trouble far from shore.
      • The drone was stationed at the beach, instead of at the lifeguard tower. So someone had to run from the tower to the drone first. That's silly.

      The ideal situation would be to have a drone for spotting, with the capability to drop a flotation device, and have the jetski driver make use of the drone to determine where to go in rough seas.

  • So it can detect Shark or Not Shark?

    Like Hotdog and Not Hotdog?

  • When interviewed the boys said they were not drowning but distressed because the drone is used to spot sharks and it scared them. The price is also being kept a secret. There is a lot of viral marketing on this. Someone is working really hard to builk the government of hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of dollars.
    • I've done a quick and fairly limited search for a source for this, but everyone seems to be gushing about the rescue.

      The boys don't look to be in distress in the drone's footage (in my totally unqualified opinion), and seem perfectly capable of heading to shore once the flotation device is dropped, so your description of events seems plausible. I presume that there are already shark spotting drones in the area, and that this new drone was mistaken as being one of those by the boys.

      Where did you find/see the

      • by Anonymous Coward

        From Seven News Queenland broadcast: https://youtu.be/4hAbTH9zQ_Y?t=44

      • A lot of rescues are done for reasons not needing a rescue. Question: 2 swimmers are 700m from the shore in 3m swells and someone worried has reported them. What do you as a lifesaver do?

        Frankly dropping a pod from a drone sounds like a better alternative than getting a team of 2 people to swim / boat out. This has happened to me frequently. I grew up on the beach but now live in Europe where people's ability to swim leaves a bit to be desired. I was happily swimming down the coast in the north sea when I g

        • Adding to my previous reply, you mentioned based on your unqualified opinion they may have made it back to shore. Unfortunately that's the same opinion of most people who get pulled out of the water. Very few people are able to recognize signs that they are in trouble until it's waaaaay too late.

          There's been cases of lifeguards rushing into water to save drowning children while their parents were right next to them not realising they were in distress. It's a hard thing to differentiate too. Something as sim

          • Fair and reasonable comments, all.

            I realise that I'm coming back to this a couple of days later, but on the chance you see this - thanks.

    • When interviewed the boys said they were not drowning but distressed because the drone is used to spot sharks and it scared them.

      Completely irrelevant. They were reported to life savers by others which prompted a response. Whether or not they were drowning doesn't change that 2 people were in 3 meter swells some 700m off the coast. One way or the other they would have been fetched by lifesavers, the difference is the response time of the drone was much faster than traditionally launching the boat or worse, swimming out on a board.

      It's also worth noting that it has been a nasty few weeks for drownings in Australia. Whether or not they

  • it were allowed to deliver parcels from helipads on building roofs.

    A lot of traffic in cities, up to 50%, is delivering small parcels, often just papers, between business. And we are breathing all that toxic fossil fuel exhaust from traffic jams.

    All that anti-drone neo-luddism is not coming free.

The earth is like a tiny grain of sand, only much, much heavier.