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Drones are helping Australian swimmers watch out for sharks

Flickr/Elias Levy
Drones are watching.
  • Mike Murphy
By Mike Murphy

Technology editor

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

If there’s one thing humans fear more than the impending onslaught of drones, it’s sharks. Now, we’ve found a way to pit them against each other.

The Australian government announced today (Nov. 25) that it’s launching a test program to use drones to monitor beachlines in New South Wales for sharks.

Traditionally, when there’s a chance of sharks coming close to areas where people may be swimming or surfing, the government sends a helicopter to inspect the waters. A drone would be easier to deploy quickly, and likely cheaper. The first tests began today in Coffs Harbour, a town about 200 miles south of Brisbane: Drones are deployed over the water, and send video footage with GPS coordinates back to their pilots in real time.

“There is no easy way to reduce risks for swimmers and surfers,” Niall Blair, an Australian agriculture and industry minister, said in a release. “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.”

According to ABC, the government will be using a DJI Inspire 1 drone—which Quartz recently recommended for professional use in its drone gift guide.

The Australian government is also testing out what it calls a “smart drum line”—a type of shark trap—which the BBC reports will be deployed in Ballina, where a surfer was killed by a shark in February. The traps alerts authorities if a shark is nabbed.

Whether being filmed by the government above while you’re in your swimsuit is worth for protection from the occasional shark attack remains to be seen. But at least the footage should be pretty spectacular.

Image by Elias Levy on Flickr, licensed under CC-BY-2.0.

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