The Australian government is looking for a high tech alternative to setting up extensive shark nets around popular beaches. They will begin launching drones to spot sharks that swim too close to shore this September.
Drones created by the Little Ripper Group have been outfitted with an impressive algorithm that allows the flying machines to instantly identify sharks in the waters below as well as other common sights, such as dolphins, whales, and surfers, so nearby swimmers will have an advance warning to get out of the water. These large gas-powered, $250,000 USD drones can cruise the skies and keep a close eye on the waves for 150 minutes at a time. The same drone manufacturer is also working on an “electronic shark deterrent.”
Dr. Nabin Sharma, an associate from the University of Technology Sydney’s School of Software, commented on the impressive effectiveness of this shark-spotting program:
Studies have shown that people have a 20-30 percent accuracy rate when interpreting data from aerial images to detect shark activity. Detection software can boost that rate to 90 percent. 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. That’s what the application is meant for.
The United States currently holds the record for the largest number of unprovoked shark attacks in the world over the past year, but Australia is a close second. On average, there is usually one fatal shark attack in Australia each year, and there are a number of large shark species such as great whites, bull sharks, and tiger sharks that are commonly found off their coastline.