Anyone who has surfed Australia’s Bondi Beach knows to be on the look-out for sharks. Last year there were 14 attacks near New South Wales, and there has already been one in 2016. Now the country is taking to the skies to help keep the seas safe for swimmers and surfers.
Australia just started trials of a new program using drones to monitor for sharks lurking in the water. The drones, adorably known as Little Rippers, according to a story in Australia’s Daily Telegraph, will transmit live footage of the water to a two-person team monitoring the feed. Any sign of a Great White or other shark known for biting humans will be relayed immediately to emergency services and beach lifeguards, who can alert people to get out of the water.
But the life-saving technology doesn’t end with Little Rippers. The University of Technology Sydney is developing software that can analyze live footage from the drones to identify the types of sharks in the water, as well as infrared technology that could help keep night swimmers safe, too.
Not only will the drones be on the look out for sharks, but they will also be used on search-and-rescue missions, because they can shuttle life saving equipment like life rafts, location beacons, and even defibrillators to people stranded on the high seas (or the desert or the mountains).
If the drone trials are successful it’s expected that 40 will be made available to lifeguards and beaches around Australia next year.