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Drones to spot killer sharks


Drones are to be used to reduce the threat sharks pose to swimmers in the seas around Australia’s stunning beaches.

Sharkspotter is a potentially lifesaving artificial intelligence technology developed at the University of Technology Sydney. Fitted to drones made by the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver UAV company, the system has achieved 90% accuracy levels in detecting sharks from footage gathered in real time. This information can be immediately relayed to lifeguards and emergency services.

And with 26 shark attacks and two fatalities recorded in Australia last year, this technology is vital.

“Sharkspotter uses image processing techniques, state-of-the-art sensors and software, and applies deep learning neural networks for  object detection and classification,”said Dr Nabin Sharma, Research Associate, UTS School of Software.

The deep learning algorithms and imaging technology combine to differentiate sharks from other things in the sea, including dolphins, humans and boats.

Eddie Bennet, Chief Executive Officer, Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver, added: “This system will help make beach recreation much safer and is a major milestone in addressing shark attacks with very real ability to save a life.

“This smart algorithm gives us yet another capability in patrolling beaches which we have been doing regularly for almost a year.”

The Little Ripper drones will protect a number of Australia’s main beaches from summer 2017/18 onward.

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