Gold Coast Bulletin – November 5, 2020
LIFE-SAVING technology designed on the Gold Coast has been inducted into the Australian National Maritime Museum after it became the first of its kind to help two swimmers survive.
The Ripper Group CEO Ben Trollope still remembers the day in January, 2018, when his company’s technology – the Westpac Little Ripper lifesaving drone – helped save two boys in big surf at Lennox Head. The drone had been recently modified in the Ripper Group headquarters in Carrara and was able to help its operator spot the boys, and drop a marine pod to them. The pod inflates when it makes contact with the water, allowing them to stay buoyant and use the swell to get back to shore.
Mr Trollope vividly recalled being thanked not only by the rescued teens’ parents but also by the parents of the boy on patrol that day.
“I was out for dinner after the event and the parents of the boy who was patrolling thanked me because the drone meant he didn’t need to go out in the terrifying conditions to save the swimmers,” he said.
“That encounter really stuck out for me. We had proven this technology we’d been banging on about was worthwhile.
“It wasn’t just a monumental day nationally but also globally. People across the world took notice of what drones could do.
“Many thought they were just for fun and photographers, but we knew the technology could be used to save lives.”
Back in May, it was revealed Westpac Rescue and Little Ripper were trialling drone drops of dye to mark rips and danger areas.
The history-making pod drone will be the centrepiece of a new gallery at the museum and Mr Trollope said the group was honoured to be a part of the special achievement.