Little Ripper Life Saver | SMART DRONE SPOTS SHARKS
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April 13

A GOLD Coast company will today launch artificial intelligence technology that can spot sharks at holiday hotspots.

The Little Ripper Group, which previously developed technology to “bomb” sharks with electrical pulses, will fit drones at Ballina with software it says will make beaches safer by removing the risk of human error.

The technology involves a scan of the surf every 0.2 seconds and the ability to read whether objects are sharks, human, whales or seals. The live video feed has a 90 per cent accuracy rate.

Studies have revealed human spotters in helicopters are able to identify sharks only 18 per cent of the time.

“It is artificial intelligence

– the more you feed the program the smarter it gets,” said Little Ripper Group chief operations officer Ben Trollope. “There’s no reason why we can’t teach it to identify rips or submerged objects.”

Beaches in northern NSW, where the technology will be trialled, have been hardest hit by shark attacks in the past two years, with 14 attacks including two deaths.

The technology identifies sharks with a red square while swimmers, surfers, dolphins and seals are coded either green or blue. All monitors need to do is look for the red signal on screen.

Mr Trollope said the world-first technology, developed with the University of Technology Sydney over the past 12 months, removed the risk of human error.

Mr Trollope said the Little Ripper Group wanted to roll out the technology across Australia.

Little Ripper has previously fitted drones with Shark Shield devices which emit electrical pulses said to irritate sharks.

Mr Trollope conceded it would not detect all sharks but said it could save lives.

“We’ve spent a huge amount of time on this. But what value do you put on people’s lives?”

Ballina Shire Mayor David Wright, who had been an outspoken critic of shark nets, said he supported the new non-lethal technology.

“The latest news is groundbreaking,” Cr Wright said. “It is a major step towards solving the problem of shark attacks.”

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