Shark-spotting drones on patrol at Australian beaches

Posted: December 13, 2017 by oldbrew in innovation, News

Image credit: BBC

Before anyone asks – ‘UTS are also adapting the emerging technology to spot crocodiles for a program in northern Australia.’

High-tech shark-spotting drones are patrolling dozens of Australian beaches this summer to quickly identify underwater predators and deliver safety devices to swimmers and surfers faster than traditional lifesavers, reports

As hundreds of people lined up in early morning sun to take part in a recent ocean swimming race at Bilgola beach north of Sydney, they did so in the knowledge the ocean had been scanned to keep them safe.

“I think it is really awesome,” 20-year-old competitor Ali Smith told AFP. “It is cool to see technology and ocean swimming getting together, and hopefully more people will feel safer and get involved.”

The drones being used are top notch.

Artificial intelligence is built using thousands of images captured by a drone camera to develop an algorithm that can identify different ocean objects.

The software can differentiate between sea creatures, like sharks which it can recognise with more than 90 percent accuracy, compared to about 16 percent with the naked eye.

“We can identify 16 different objects, like sharks, whales, dolphins, surfers, different kinds of boats and many other objects of interest,” software designer Nabin Sharma from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) told AFP.

“We are spotting sharks and we can alert swimmers and surfers in real time, so we can get them back to the beach,” he added. “In short, we are trying to make beach recreation more safe.”

Surf lifesaving clubs are Australian institutions dotted along the country’s coastline—where the majority of the population live.

They ordinarily rely on the naked eye to spot sharks, and launch surfboards or rubber dinghies from shore to rescue anyone in trouble.

The drone is a welcomed technical intervention that can also drop safety devices to distressed swimmers, just moments after they have been identified.

“The reason the drone is so important is sometimes we can’t see over the waves, so having the drone is that little piece of extra prevention for us,” Bilgola Surf Lifesaving Club president Romilly Madew said.

“It gives us that line of sight that we can’t see—both for the surfers, and really for our patrols.”

Spotting other hazards, like jellyfish or strong currents, via the drone gives swimmers greater confidence in the sea, she added.

Continued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    21st Century Drone presents…

    Watch giant 16-foot-long great white shark lurking near popular Australian beach

    So far, the rare footage of the shark has got over 368,000 views and 2,200 shares on Facebook.

    By Shubham Sharma
    December 17, 2017

    A giant great white shark was recently seen swimming eerily near a popular Western Australian beach in what has been described as a ‘rare footage’ of the massive creature.

    The shark, which has been estimated to be around 16 foot long, was captured in the overhead view of a drone. It was swimming near a Department of Transportation patrol boat and was less than 200ft away from the beach of Twilight Cove in Esperance. [bold added]

  2. oldbrew says:

    Australia lifesaving drone makes first rescue
    January 18, 2018

    A pair of Australian swimmers on Thursday became the first people to be rescued in the ocean by a drone when the aerial lifesaver dropped a safety device to distressed teens caught in rough seas.

    Australia is leading the use of the technology in surf lifesaving, with dozens of drones being trialled on beaches around the country.

    In what is believed to be a world-first drone surf rescue, two boys on Thursday got caught in three-metre (10-foot) swells while swimming off Lennox Head in New South Wales, near the border with Queensland.

    Beachgoers onshore raised the alarm to the lifeguards who then alerted the drone pilot, and the aerial lifesaver was deployed in moments.

    Read more at:

  3. oldbrew says:

    Drones used in effort to retrieve drowned swimmer’s body for the first time by Australian emergency services

    NSW Surf Lifesaving’s Chris Samuels said the drones gave the recovery team more visibility in poor conditions.

    “The drones give us another perspective on the water with a bird’s eye view,” Mr Samuels said.

    “Drones and helicopters can be very beneficial on a day like this.”–beach/9408916

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