Co-founder of Little Ripper Group, Paul Scully-Power, told that the Queensland government was approached by the company to help keep beachgoers safe in the water and on land from crocodiles. “The Queensland government said, ‘Hey do we have a challenge for you and asked can you spot crocodiles for us?’ Crocodiles are slinky people that like dark, muddy water, so we took on that challenge,” Paul said.
The shark detection drones earlier used by Little Ripper Group is now being used to spot crocodiles in Queensland. Hence, a trail was conducted between Surf Life Saving Queensland and the Little Ripper Group to identify, monitor, and track the movement of crocodiles in November.
Making use of AI
New “Smart Artificial Intelligence” developed in conjunction with the University of Technology Sydney, uses an AI(Artificial Intelligence) system that was originally designed to detect sharks in real-time. This system was unveiled by the company on August 20, 2019, at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit in Canberra. This could also imply that Ripper Group drones can also operate and identify swimmers autonomously.
The drone technology can differentiate up to 16 different types of marine life, said Dr.Scully Power speaking at Amazon Web Services (AWS) Public Sector at the Summit in Canberra on Wednesday. Moreover, the AWS cloud has been able to reduce the latency of its video feeds from its drones from 10 seconds to 1 second. Thus, a mobile app lets rescuers access video feeds from the drones when they detect a swimmer in distress using AI. Also, these drones can deploy floating pods and are equipped with sirens.
Scully-Power explained how signs will be of great use to them. For instance, splashing around too much or a series of unnatural movements like this can teach the AI that the swimmer is probably in distress.
Looking ahead, Little Ripper Group plans to deploy long-range drones to monitor unpatrolled beaches in Australia, with the first ones expected to fly between Sydney and Newcastle. Furthermore, he said that the Ripper Group was approached by many other countries like the USA, Japan, Malaysia, India, and South Korea.
Scully-Power said that such drone technology has the potential to also be applied for a range of other uses. These uses can range from transport, infrastructure, to even border protection.
Below is an example of how the shark spotting drone works: