Turns out a bigger boat may not be needed to stop a shark, but rather, a shark-patrolling drone. Rather than take to the sea, beaches in Australia have their sights set to the sky in the fight against shark attacks. Westpac, a rescue helicopter service, announced it’s commissioning a trial to launch drones into the sky and utilize them for search and rescue operations, as well as scanning the salty, watery depths for those gray-finned menaces. This trial comes on the heels of growing concerns from the Australian government of increased shark attacks and sightings, where $16 million was devoted toward a shark strategy that included investment in new technologies such as drones.
A long-range drone, adorably named the Little Ripper, is the drone Westpac hopes will prevent shark attacks on beaches and will assist in search and rescue missions. With a design resembling a mini-helicopter, the Little Ripper will be equipped with advanced vision capabilities and utilize a system of aerial detection to spot sharks that get too close to comfort to the sandy shores. By utilizing aerial drones, Westpac hopes to monitor coastal conditions while maintaining the fragile ecosystem and sustainability of the beaches.
Beyond just crying shark, the Little Ripper is being tested in a trial to deliver life saving pods to drowning swimmers or others in dire situations. These pods will contain items like medical equipment, flotation equipment and even shark repellant since, you know, there’s not much the drone can do up in the sky to actually ward a shark off once it detects one. Currently, the coastlines in northern New South Wales, including Hawkes Nest, Byron Bay and Newcastle are participating in Westpac’s drone trial. Here’s hoping the trial proves not only effective in spotting sharks, but be a warning signal for those pesky sharknados too.