News & Opinion | August 28, 2017 9:00 am

Of Course Australia Made a Drone to Spot Sharks

The Little Ripper can even warm swimmers to leave the water

Behind North America — which saw 46 shark attacks last year — Australia ranked second in total unprovoked shark attacks in 2016 with 15, including two fatalities. 

In hopes to keep their waters safer, our mates in Australia came up with a new strategy for fighting off man-eaters while enlisting the year’s most buzzed-about gadgets: the drone. 

Starting next month, a fleet of Little Ripper Lifesaver drones will take to the skies above the beaches in New South Wales and Queensland on Australia’s east coast. Equipped with a camera that shoots live video, the Little Ripper’s system relays imagery to a sophisticated recognition algorithm that uses AI to quickly identify sharks with 90% accuracy.

Shark Drones (2 images)

Trained to differentiate sharks from surfers, swimmers, boats and other creatures of the sea, the algorithm’s findings are checked by a human operator who can alert authorities or make a warning announcement via a high-powered megaphone mounted within the Little Ripper.

More than a year in development, the software in the shark-spotting drone has shown to be 60% more effective than a human working with aerial images alone, Reuters reported.  

“It’s not about replacing human beings altogether; it’s about assisting human beings to get the work done in a better way with more accuracy,” Dr. Nabin Sharma of the University of Technology Sydney’s School of Software told Reuters. “That’s what the app is meant for.”

Either way, if you happen to spot a shark Down Under, you know what to say