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Unmanned Systems & Drones

Smart software spots sharks

Australia has recently started deploying drones to guard its coastline, with the aim of protecting swimmers from shark attacks. The drones transmit live videos, while special AI software ensures sharks are not mistaken for boats or other fish.

21 Sep. 2017
Source: Little Ripper
Smart software spots sharks. (Photo: Little Ripper)

In terms of the number of unprovoked shark attacks on humans, Australia is in second place behind the US, as documented by the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) database held by the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. After a series of attacks on the northwestern coast of Australia this year prompted heated debate over the use of safety nets, the country now plans to deploy drones to better guard its coastline.

The drones come from Australian company Little Ripper Group and, according to the manufacturer, can stay in the air for up to 150 minutes. They transmit live videos to their control center, where AI software trained to spot sharks evaluates the images. The program was developed by the School of Software at the University of Technology in Sydney. One of the scientists involved in the program told news agency Reuters that the software can correctly distinguish sharks from boats and other sea dwellers in 90% of cases, as opposed to the 20-30% rate of successful identification by humans.

When a shark is discovered, the drone warns swimmers by microphone and drops a life raft that sends an automatic emergency signal. The development of an electric shark repellent is also planned.