Currently there are drones being used for shark detection around Australia and the world. Generally, these systems use a spotter manually searching the water for sharks. Once a shark is found the beach goers can be notified to exit the water safely.
We noticed that there was not a high level of sophistication in these systems, requiring hours of manual searching to hopefully not find a thing. This gives way for human error with the user monotonously searching a screen for a shadow in the water that may never appear. With our maturing computer vision analysis software, we decided that there must indeed be a better solution.
Re-training our software we now have a working shark spotter that can with some accuracy detect sharks in the water, spot swimmers, surfers, vessels and more. Have a look at a proof of concept below:
What this enables is computer assisted (automated) live shark detection, alerting the pilot or beach patrol team during flight when a shark is found. Plotting the GPS position of the contact and showing the image of the detected shark. The patrol team is then able to make a calculated decision if there is indeed a threat to the safety of the swimmers at the beach and take the necessary action.
Aside from the actual recognition of the sharks, there is a significant flaw in current adapted models. This is the significantly short flight times per battery and need for constant piloting. Flight time ranges significantly from 20 minutes using a consumer DJI drone to up to 40 minutes for a more commercial setup. The result of this is that all day the system is going up and down, requiring significant input from the ground team costing time and money and leaving black spots in the monitoring of the beach location.
Our solution to this is an autonomous and robust, tethered drone platform that can fly all day. Our concept is as follows:
We see our solution as a fixture to a modern and safe beach, not only alerting to sharks but also other dangers. As the software adapts and matures there will be the possibility to detect a knocked-out swimmer face down in the water or a person who is getting swept out in a rip, giving lifeguards the edge saving lives at out beaches.
This is a really exciting area for us and we are looking forward to pushing the boundaries of what is possible. We would love to connect with government bodies, local councils and lifesaving organisations to trial and adapt this system and to make beaches in Australia and around the world a safer place.