Lifeguards in Australia are about to get some extra help from the sky.
Westpac, which sponsors the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Services, has announced a trial of new drones to be used in search and rescue operations, reports Mashable.
The long-range, battery-powered drone is nicknamed the Little Ripper and looks like a mini-helicopter.
According to Westpac, the trial also aims to develop a system that will be able to detect sharks from the air and will trial the use of drones to deliver Life Saving Pods to people in emergency situations.
The packages contain vital items such as floatation devices, shark repellent and medical equipment.
The trial will initially focus on the coastlines of Newcastle, Hawkes Nest and Byron Bay in northern New South Wales (NSW).
NSW Premier, Mike Baird, described the trial as an ‘innovative’ step in keeping the beach safe and said:
This technology has the potential to improve the way our emergency services respond when people find themselves in trouble.
The trial comes as part the NSW government’s $16 million (£8 million) strategy to combat fears about the rising number of shark attacks and sightings in the region.