Australian researchers have developed a drone that can detect whether an object underwater is a human of threat, such as a shark. If it views something as a threat to human life, it will launch an announcement to warn people in the area.

It’s been developed by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and drone company Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver and claims 90% accuracy, greatly improving the chances of warning people there could be a problem in the water.

The drone uses artificial intelligence to identify features of a moving object, processing data points to ascertain whether people on the coast are safe or not. It can tell the difference between different sea creatures including dolphins, rays and sharks and even whether a human is surfing or swimming. It can also understand the difference between a boat and other not-animal objects, meaning a warning is only triggered when it’s needed.

“The automated system for detection and identification of sharks in particular, and marine life/objects more generally, was developed using cutting edge deep neural networks and image processing techniques,” Professor Michael Blumenstein, head of the School of Software in the Faculty of Engineering and IT at UTS said.

It analyses real time footage, so can make split second decisions without a human interfering. Warnings can also be directly issued to beach lifeguards and emergency services too, so if an incident does happen, those on the beach can focus on assisting rather than spending time talking to emergency services.
The drones will be implemented at various beaches around Australia in the coming months, into next year. Authorities are hopeful it will help reduce the number of attacks on the country’s beaches significantly.