Drones

Australia deploys shark-spotting drones to keep watch over beachgoers

Australia deploys shark-spotti...
The Little Ripper is a modified version of a military-grade Vapor 55 drone
The Little Ripper is a modified version of a military-grade Vapor 55 drone
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The Little Ripper is a modified version of a military-grade Vapor 55 drone
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The Little Ripper is a modified version of a military-grade Vapor 55 drone
The battery-powered, AU$250,000 (US$178,500) drone streams live footage back to the ground
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The battery-powered, AU$250,000 (US$178,500) drone streams live footage back to the ground

With tens of thousands of miles of coastline and a recent spike in shark attacks, Australia is exploring some pretty imaginative approaches to ensuring the safety of its beachgoers. Magnetic barriers and shark-tracking phone apps are a few of the tech ideas that have been floated, and the state of New South Wales is now turning to drones to help do the job. It has launched a trial of unmanned shark-spotting aircraft, which will survey the coastline for predators lurking in shallow waters.

The Little Ripper is a modified version of a military-grade Vapor 55 drone that's been fitted with advanced camera and sensing technologies. The battery-powered, AU$250,000 (US$178,500) drone streams live footage back to the ground, and according to The Daily Telegraph can fly for 150 minutes at a time and up to 100 km (62 mi) away.

This vision will combine with pattern-recognition software that is currently under development, to provide emergency and lifeguard services with the ability to spot sharks in real time. It could also enable sharks to be detected at night through infrared technology.

The battery-powered, AU$250,000 (US$178,500) drone streams live footage back to the ground
The battery-powered, AU$250,000 (US$178,500) drone streams live footage back to the ground

Further to identifying imminent threats, the Little Ripper is also designed to serve as a rescue tool. Each will carry life-saving pods packed with defibrillators, floatation devices, shark repellent and survival kits that can be dropped off to people in danger.

The Little Ripper will first be deployed on the State's northern beaches at Newcastle, Hawks Nest and Byron Bay, in a collaborative trial with Australian bank Westpac. If it proves a success, the drone may then come to be used at other sites and in other emergency scenarios, such as in rivers, lakes, snow and bushland.

Source: Westpac

3 comments
Anthony Parkerwood
Static sonar buoys could triangulate the position of the shark and point green laser beams at it's position to alert swimmers.
PaulWilson
A great initiative, but the current CASA regulations will not allow the unit to be flown out of the line of sight. Only semi-autonomous UAS craft are allowed to be used in Australia, this project indicates that the unit will be fully autonomous. What about the differing weather conditions at individual beaches, weather can change on a dime. What safety precautions will applied to their use, how far away from the swimmers will it have to fly currently you can not fly any closure than 30m. Don't see this program getting off the ground!
ZacharyGorrie
This $250,000 drone has no battery monitor or redundancy. It crashed recently, luckily not into anyone. The single rotor platform is not the right technology, it's dangerous.