$250,000 Shark-Spotting Drone Debuts In Australia


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

154 $250,000 Shark-Spotting Drone Debuts In Australia
A great white, one of the types of shark spotted off the coast of New South Wales. Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

Although the chance of dying from a shark attack in your lifetime is just one in 3.7 million, it doesn’t hurt to be a little vigilant in areas frequently visited by sharks. With this in mind, the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has announced that a $250,000 shark attack-spotting rescue drone will soon be trialled in the region.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the state’s premier Mike Baird declared that the drone will be the “future of rescue,” predicting that every surf club in NSW will eventually have access to this technology. Dubbed the “Little Ripper,” the U.S.-manufactured drone is designed to withstand powerful crosswinds and will be far more agile than standard, similar-sized drones. It is battery powered and can fly without charge for an hour.




Its on-board high-resolution camera, aided by an in-development surveillance algorithm, will be able to spot potentially troublesome activity in the shark-filled waters off the coast of NSW. In addition, a rescue pod – containing an inflatable three-person life raft and a locator beacon – will also be attached in the event that a shark attack is spotted.

This new drone follows on from the NSW government’s 2015 shark-tracking initiative. Trials have already taken place with drones exclusively designed to track sharks’ movement through the water; there are even plans to tag sharks with trackers so coastguards will know where they are 24/7.


With a lack of evidence for the more controversial approach of shark culling, it's good to see that innovative techniques that don't harm the animals are being trialled in a bid to reduce human-shark conflicts. 




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