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Life-Saving Drones Used to Rescue Swimmers off French Coast

Thursday Aug 10, 2017
Lifeguard Geoffrey Leventec pilots a rescue drone from the beach of Biscarrosse, southwestern France, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Lifeguard Geoffrey Leventec pilots a rescue drone from the beach of Biscarrosse, southwestern France, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.  (Source:AP Photo/Bob Edme)

It could be the "Baywatch" of the future.

A cutting-edge lifesaving initiative - the rescue drone - is taking flight again this summer off France's popular Atlantic beaches.

Following a successful launch in 2016, three airborne life-saver drones are being operated in the southwestern Nouvelle-Aquitaine region until September to come to the aid of swimmers struggling in choppy water.

At 80 kilometers an hour, the 3.9 kilogram drone buzzes to the danger spot four minutes faster than a lifeguard and is programmed to neatly drop a life buoy to the water.

Anthony Gavend, from drone manufacturing company HELPER, says Tuesday the time gained "means the difference between life and death."

Gavend said it was the first such initiative in the world and helped some 50 swimmers in difficulty last year.

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