In a statement released last week, Australian politician Niall Blair announced that New South Wales (NSW) will take a new approach to beach safety, trialling shark detecting drones.
Using drones for aerial surveillance is a natural area for commercial application, and drones are already used in Australia to locate wild animals or identify pests on crops. This will be the first trial of drones worldwide to help with shark mitigation.
“There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers. We are delivering on a commitment to test the best science available, including new technologies, as we try to find an effective long-term solution to keep our beaches safe,” Mr Blair said. “These are the first of several trials that will get underway across the state’s beaches this summer as we take an integrated approach to working out a long-term solution.”
The drone trials began last week at Coffs Harbour. The trials use drone technology for shark attack mitigation by feeding images back to the operator in real time, using GPS coordinates. This is an expansion of the current system of aerial surveillance to locate sharks off of the coastline using helicopters.
New South Wales has suffered more than a dozen shark attacks this year, which led government officials to convene “shark summits” to deal with the problem. In addition to the drone trials, the government will up the use of beach helicopter surveillance to 3 hours per day. The program is also increasing the number of 4G “listening stations” to track tagged sharks, and introducing “smart drum” technology, to capture sharks on baited hooks as they pass.
Last year, there were over 130 shark attacks worldwide.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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