Little Ripper UAS helps save swimmers in Australia



In Lennox Head, New South Wales, Australia, lifeguards from the Australian Lifeguard Service were preparing for a training session to familiarize themselves with UAS equipment when a call came in about two distressed swimmers.

Approximately a kilometer north of the patrolled area, two men were swimming in powerful surf conditions, when someone noticed that they were having difficulty in the three meter swell.

​At the time, lifeguard Supervisor Jai Sheridan was piloting a Westpac Little Ripper UAS, so he immediately responded, and within minutes of the initial alert, located the swimmers.

Sheridan dropped a rescue pod from the UAS to the swimmers, and they were able to cling onto it and make their own way to shore. They were met by lifeguards from Lennox Head, and besides showing signs of fatigue, they were unharmed from the ordeal.

“The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly,” Sheridan said after the rescue.

“I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes. On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public.”

This UAS technology and payload ability has been in development for three intensive years, according to Westpac Little Ripper CEO Eddie Bennet. Bennet was extremely pleased with how well the technology worked in this life-saving scenario.

“The Westpac Little Ripper’s rescue today of the 2 young swimmers, in the 3 meter dangerous swell, clearly illustrates the benefit of this cutting edge technology in such a time critical emergency situation,” Bennet says.

“The investment by Westpac in allowing the development of the Westpac Little Ripper, is the new generation of rescue services.”