AI to help drones better detect sharks off Australian coast

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-28 16:28:27|Editor: Song Lifang
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SYDNEY, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- Shark-detecting drones equipped with a newly-developed artificial intelligence (AI) system will start patrolling Australian beaches in September to send quicker warnings to beachgoers and offer better protection.

The drones will monitor certain beaches for signs of sharks, and pass along video footage to an AI system that can identify sharks in real time.

According to the Australian research team that developed the system, dubbed Shark Spotter, the algorithm of the system is 90 percent accurate in distinguishing sharks from other marine life.

That number far outshines the 18-percent accuracy of human spotters in helicopters and the 12-percent accuracy of spotters in fixed-wing aircraft, according to Dr. Nabin Sharma, a research associate at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS).

"It's not about replacing human beings all together, it's about assisting human beings to get the work done in a better way with more accuracy. That's what the application is meant for," Dr. Sharma told Reuters.

The UTS-developed Shark Spotter is integrated with Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver drones, which hold beacons and life rafts to offer immediate help to swimmers and surfers.

The drones will also send alerts to nearby lifeguards and emergency services, and alert any swimmers below via an on-board megaphone.

In 2016, there were 26 recorded shark attacks in Australia, including two fatalities, according to a UTS news release.

The situation led to an earlier deployment of protective nets off Australia's northeast coast. But environmentalists maintained that the nets could fence off other species and potentially harm the ecosystem.