A new drone called “Little Ripper” that can hunt and spot sharks off the coast of New South Wales as well as provide rescue packages.
Miles Godfrey writes about Australia’s first astronaut, Dr. Paul Scully-Power, and philanthropist, Kevin Weldon, who has developed “Little Ripper”. Weldon has a personal interest due to his friend being killed by a shark off Burleigh Heads, Queensland in 1954. Further, Weldon was inspired after seeing US military drones used to help save 5,000 lives after Hurricane Katrina. Godfrey also states that Weldon began developing this system about 10 years ago. Weldon is also the founding president of the International Life Saving Federation.
Godfrey reports, “The unmanned aerial vehicles, called ‘Little Rippers’ and worth $250,000 each, will begin a trial on the state’s shark-infested north coast within days after being unveiled by Westpac and Premier Mike Baird…”
In 2015, Godfrey states that there were 14 shark attacks (1 fatality) off NSW and so far only one attack in 2016.
The drone is able to detect sharks at night using infrared technology. Godfrey further reports that there is software developed by University of Technology Sydney to analyse live footage from the drones to assist in identifying the type of shark. Godfrey reports, “The information can then be relayed immediately to emergency services, beach lifeguards, and water users.”
There are rescue packs called “ULBs” to help aid in land, sea, and snow emergencies. Weldon comments that ULB stands for “you little beauty-something those in need of rescue would say when they see the rescue pods.” Godfrey reveals that the drones are able fly out in a moments notice to drop the rescue packs containing life-rafts, positioning beacons, defibrillators and other life saving equipment.
Godfrey further states that an academy will possibly be started to “train licensed surf lifesaving volunteers to fly the drones.”