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Shark-Hunting Drones to Take Off in Australia

Fear not, nature lovers: these new inventions aren’t as violent as the name may suggest. We’re not talking about robots with frickin’ lasers getting tossed into a freak tornado by Ian Ziering, but rather, miniature remote-controlled aircraft to scout for the appearance of sharks, and drop rescue pods to swimmer who might be in the path of danger.

Imagine how short a movie Jaws would have been with these things. “Yeah, we see the great white about two miles offshore…we’ll get you the coordinates now…oh, and he’s exactly twenty-five feet long, so please make sure the bigness of your boat is completely in accordance with–and prepared for–that.” Technology might make it safe to get back in the water, but it’s sure dating our favorite scary movies real fast.

The vehicles, called Little Rippers, are being funded by Westpac, an Australian bank. The official goals of the devices include:

  • Working with CASA [Civil Aviation Safety Authority] to allow the devices to go “beyond visual-line-of-sight.” (Currently CASA regulations require all remotely piloted aircraft to be flown within visual-line-of-sight of the pilot at all times.)
  • Researching, developing and deploying “best practice aerial detection of sharks.” A combination of pattern-recognition algorithms and real-time sensors will combine to this end. Also looking for triangular fins, presumably.
  • “Seek to integrate ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast) into the UAVs together with TCAS (traffic alert and collision avoidance) visibility.” Not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds good.
  • Coordinating and integrating with “existing emergency and rescue services, such as police, fire and rescue, ambulance, maritime safety and importantly Surf Life Saving NSW [New South Wales].”
  • The deployment of “life-saving pods” containing such essentials as defibrillators, flotation devices, shark repellent and personal survival kits.

Shark repellent, eh? I understand we have an exclusive picture of an early version of such technology:


But as Bruce Wayne might say, while levity is sometimes appropriate, the seriousness of saving innocent lives at sea is not to be dismissed, and is a most desirable outcome. Also, we’re pretty sure the next Sharknado sequel will find a way to attach chainsaws to the drones.

In the meantime, you can soon swim safer off the Aussie coast.

Do you feel more secure in the ocean now? Let us know below.

Images: Little Ripper courtesy of Westpac, Batman via Fox

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