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Drones warn of shark attacks

Drones warn of shark attacks

Drones that can warn of shark attacks are patrolling Australian beaches.

The Little Ripper Lifesaver uses artificial intelligence technology to look for sharks approaching tourist holiday hotspots.

It scans the sea below every 0.2 seconds and decides whether they are looking at sharks, humans, whales or seals with a 90 percent accuracy rate, compared to 18 percent for humans in helicopters.

Ben Trollop, Little Ripper Group chief operations officer, said: "It is artificial intelligence - the more you feed the program the smarter it gets. There's no reason why we can't teach it to identify rips or submerged objects. We've spent a huge amount of time on this. But what value do you put on people's lives?"

The drone was trialled last year with much success.

Creator Kevin Weldon said at the time: "The aim of this trial is to accomplish things with search and rescue that were impossible to even dream about 10 or 20 years ago. It offers exciting new possibilities to unite multiple emergency services in ensuring more effective and rapid deployment in critical search and rescue missions, including in the aftermath of natural disasters."

Whilst Mike Baird of Surf Life Saving NSW, an aquatic safety organisation based in New South Wales, added: "As Australians, we love the outdoors, and I commend Little Ripper and Westpac for conducting this innovative trial. This technology has the potential to improve the way our emergency services respond when people find themselves in trouble. We're investing in unmanned and increased aerial surveillance as part of our $16 million shark strategy and I look forward to the outcomes of this trial."

The trial was funded by Westpac, who run the Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service.

Brian Hartzer, Westpac Chief Executive Officer, shared: "This is innovation at its best that will lead to a safer Australia. For over 40 years, the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service has been a crucial community service in Australia, and we believe the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver technology has the potential to help save even more lives."

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