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AI Drones Will Help Stop Australian Shark Attacks

August 25, 2017

Take a quadcopter with a camera, load it with image-recognition algorithms, have it fly over a beach, and—OH NO GET OUT OF THE WATER THERE’S A SHARK. That is, more or less, what will be happening on some of Australia’s beaches starting next month.

Reuters reports that the University of Technology Sydney’s School of Software has worked with the commercial drone firm Little Ripper Group to build the new software. It's designed to discern sharks from other sea-bound entities—surfers, swimmers, boats, dolphins, and the like—in aerial footage, in real time. Computer vision has advanced incredibly in recent years, and even when faced with blurry drone-cam footage, the AI is claimed to be 90 percent accurate at spotting a shark in the waters. Humans, by contrast, manage closer to 20 percent.

When the drone spots a shark, it will alert humans in the water below by sounding a warning through a megaphone. With any luck, the system will help stave off attacks when it takes to the air in September.

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