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Drones are using artificial intelligence to protect Australian beachgoers from sharks

August 28th, 2017 at 7:34 PM

Drones are harnessing artificial intelligence to detect sharks approaching Australian beaches.

Starting next month, Little Ripper drones will be able to monitor sharks in real-time with approximately 90 percent accuracy. By contrast, humans are only about 20 to 30 percent accurate when spotting sharks.

“It’s not about replacing human beings all together, it’s about assisting human beings to get the work done in a better way with more accuracy,” Dr. Nabin Sharma, a research associate at the University of Technology Sydney’s School of Software said in an interview with Reuters. “That’s what the application is meant for.”


In conjunction with the Little Ripper Group, the university will train the system to look for the sharks via aerial videos, separating them from other marine life or other objects in the ocean. The research could also be used to identify dolphins, porpoises or other sea creatures.

The drones can deploy life rafts and beacons if someone is in danger and the company is also working on an “electronic repellant” to keep sharks away until a person is rescued.

“I guess the world has learned many years ago – defense in depth is the way to go. So this is one of the layers of the depth,” said Dr Paul Scully-Power, a co-founder of the Little Ripper Group in a Reuters interview.

According to the Taronga Conservation Society of Australia, there have been a total of 10 cases of shark attacks in Australia in 2017, including eight unprovoked attacks. Of those cases, only one of them, in the state of Western Australia, resulted in death.

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