Daily BulletinDaily Bulletin

The Conversation

  • Written by Nabin Sharma, Senior Lecturer, UTS School of Software, University of Technology Sydney
SharkSpotter combines AI and drone technology to spot sharks and aid swimmers on Australian beaches

Four tiger sharks have now been captured and killed following two separate attacks off the coast of North Queensland last week. Despite being relatively rare, shark attacks – or the threat of attacks – not only disrupt recreational beach activities, but can affect associated tourist industries.

Shark nets are a common solution to preventing shark attacks on Australian beaches, but they pose dangers to marine ecosystems.

Read more: Not just nets: how to stop shark attacks without killing sharks

Seeking a cost-effective way to monitor beach safety over large areas, we have developed a system called SharkSpotter. It combines artificial intelligence (AI), computing power, and drone technology to identify and alert lifesavers to sharks near swimmers.

SharkSpotter was named the national AI or Machine Learning Innovation of the Year at the Australian Information industry Association (AIIA) annual iAwards this month.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney and The Ripper Group, which is pioneering the use of drones – called “Westpac Little Ripper Lifesavers” – in the search and rescue movement in Australia.

A shark spotting drone

SharkSpotter can detect sharks and other potential threats using real-time aerial imagery. The system analyses streaming video from a camera attached to a drone (an unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV) to monitor beaches for sharks, issue alerts, and conduct rescues.

Developed using machine learning techniques known as “deep learning”, the SharkSpotter system receives streaming imagery from the drone camera and attempts to identify all objects in the scene. Once valid objects are detected, they are put into one of 16 categories: shark, whale, dolphin, rays, different types of boats, surfers, and swimmers.

Read more: A guide to using drones to study wildlife: first, do no harm

If a shark is detected, SharkSpotter provides both a visual indication on the computer screen and an audible alert to the operator. The operator verifies the alert and sends text messages from the SharkSpotter system to the Surf Life Savers for further action.

SharkSpotter in action.

In an emergency, the drone is equipped with a lifesaving flotation pod together with an electronic shark repellent that can be dropped into the water in cases where swimmers are in severe distress, trapped in a rip, or if there are sharks close by.

A new age of accuracy

The development of SharkSpotter involved several stages.

Among the most time-consuming tasks was collecting and annotating the necessary data. The data were collected by The Ripper Group by flying a drone with a camera attached to it above different Australian beaches.

We then manually annotated each video to indicate the specific location of sharks and other objects. The video frames and the annotations were then used to train the deep learning algorithm to correctly identify and classify objects.

These advanced machine learning techniques significantly improve aerial detection to more than 90% accuracy. That’s much better than conventional techniques such as helicopters with human spotters (17.1%) and fixed-wing aircraft spotters (12.5%).

Read more: How drones can help fight the war on shark attacks

We tested the system at different Australian beaches to determine the varying parameters, such as camera resolution, height above sea level (which can affect the vision clarity of drones), speed and flight duration.

After successful trials and fine-tuning of the system, SharkSpotter was used across a dozen popular beaches in New South Wales and Queensland last summer.

The system was developed to help Surf Life Savers monitor the beach more effectively – as opposed to replacing them – and has been received positively by end-users and communities alike, according to a survey conducted by The Ripper Group.

Saving lives

In January 2018, the Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver was used to rescue two young swimmers caught in a rip at Lennox Head, NSW.

The drone flew down the beach some 800 metres from the lifeguard station, and a lifesaving flotation pod was dropped from the drone. The complete rescue operation took 70 seconds.

We believe SharkSpotter is a win-win for both marine life and beachgoers. From a technology perspective, it has demonstrated how to detect moving objects in a complex, dynamic marine environment from a fast-moving drone.

This unique technology combines dynamic video image processing AI and advanced drone technology to creatively address the global challenge of ensuring safe beaches, protecting marine environments, and enhancing tourism.

The authors would like to acknowledge the contributions of Dr Paul Scully Power, co-founder of The Ripper Group, who partnered in the development of SharkSpotter.

Authors: Nabin Sharma, Senior Lecturer, UTS School of Software, University of Technology Sydney

Read more http://theconversation.com/sharkspotter-combines-ai-and-drone-technology-to-spot-sharks-and-aid-swimmers-on-australian-beaches-92667

Malaysia’s media crackdowns are being driven by an insecure government highly sensitive to criticism

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister Scott Morrison Interview with Ray Hadley, 2GB

RAY HADLEY: Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, supposed to be on holidays. He's not. He's online. Prime Minister, good morning.    PRIME MINISTER: G’day Ray. Certainly staying very close to every...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison Covid 19 update

PRIME MINISTER: Good afternoon, everyone. Today I’m joined by Professor Paul Murphy - sorry, Professor Paul Kelly. I’ve got Brendan Murphy still on the brain. You are not far from us, Brendan. B...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

FORDHAM: Thank you very much for talking to us. I know it's a difficult day for all of those Qantas workers. Look, they want to know in the short term, are you going to extend JobKeeper?   PRI...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

Double the interest in eCommerce spaces from businesses after COVID-19 lockdown

Recent lockdown restrictions have emphasised the necessity of an eCommerce function in future-proofing retail businesses. Sydney-based co-working space, Workit Spaces, has seen double the amoun...

Steve Fletcher, National WHSQ Manager at Drake International - avatar Steve Fletcher, National WHSQ Manager at Drake International

Tips for Setting Up an E-Commerce Website

If you are fed up with the 9-5 daily grind and would like to make a living selling products online, setting up an e-commerce website might just be the answer. Many Australians have already freed t...

News Company - avatar News Company

Fifth Dimension: Identified as one of the world’s leading strategic consultancies

Sydney based consulting company, Fifth Dimension, has been recognised for its ground breaking work, receiving a place in the GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) Top 25 Strategic Consultancie...

Tess Sanders Lazarus - avatar Tess Sanders Lazarus



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion