Two distressed swimmers who were caught in a rough swell off the New South Wales coast have been rescued by a lifesaving drone

A new lifesaving drone came to the assistance of two teenagers who got into trouble when swimming at Lennox Head, north of Sydney, just hours after the drone was unveiled by lifeguards at the beach.

The Little Ripper drone dropped a flotation device from the air to aid the struggling swimmers. In what authorities are suggesting is a world-first drone rescue, the swimmers were able to swim back to shore aided by the flotation device.

Continues below…

A member of the public alerted lifeguards who deployed the drone. The Little Ripper drone had only been unveiled at the beach hours earlier as part of a trial.

The unmanned aerial vehicles was sent to the rescue of the two teenage boys when they became trapped by 10ft waves.

The Little Ripper carries an inflatable float that can be dropped into the water.

Little Ripper lifesaving drone

The Little Ripper carries a flotation device, which it can drop into the water to aid people in trouble

The drones are also being used to to spot sharks using new software, which enables recognition of predators in the sea. Little Ripper claims trials have shown a 90% success rate in identifying sharks from the video feed and in distinguishing sharks from dolphins, rays and other marine life.

Trials of the lifeguard and shark spotting drones are ongoing across many beaches in Australia, with some tests due to complete in spring 2018.