Shark spotting drones deployed in Australia
Lifeguards in Australia are being supported by shark spotting drones, which have been employed to keep swimmers safer. The Westpac Little Ripper drones use an artificial intelligence software called Shark Spotter to distinguish between sharks, boats and other marine life.
The introduction of the drones came following research by the University of Technology Sydney’s School of Software, which showed that humans are only able to identify sharks on an aerial image with 20-30 percent accuracy. The drones have been developed in conjunction with a private company to detect sharks with 90 percent accuracy, according to a research associate at the university.
R&D for swimmer safety
Researchers used publicly available aerial photos and video footage of sharks and other marine life to train the AI system to identify sharks. Using this animal recognition software, the drones can ensure creatures such as dolphins and whales are left alone, while enabling swimmers and surfers to get to safety should a shark be close by. When a shark is spotted, the drones send out an alert via an onboard siren, although those in trouble are often still reliant on human lifeguards to help them.
The drones are already proving themselves: the Telegraph reported that a sighting of a ten-foot shark in December 2017 led to the safe evacuation of surfers and a school group who were in the water at the time. The technology has also found favour with environmentalists, who claim that it is preferable to nets, which can cause undue harm to other marine life.
The developer of the drone, Little Ripper Group, is now said to be engaging in R&D software developmentto create an ‘electronic shark repellent’ that will help to further prevent unprovoked shark attacks.
Helping stranded swimmers
The drones don’t just alert lifeguards and swimmers if a shark is nearby; they also help in rescue operations. In January, it was reported that a pair of swimmers were aided by a drone when caught in rough waters. When the distress call came in, the aerial helper located them in only 70 seconds and deployed an inflatable device which washed them closer to shore.
The next iteration of the technology is expected to be able to spot signs of human distress, meaning that anyone needing emergency help can receive it sooner.
R&D tax credits for software development
Such research and development projects as those being undertaken by Little Ripper Group are often eligible for R&D tax credits, due to the requirement for extensive testing and the fact they overcome a specific technological challenge.
If your UK business is investigating ways to improve public safety or developing recognition software, you can find out how much a potential tax claim could be worth with our R and D tax credit calculator. Alternatively, contact us today to find out how we can help with your R&D claim.