Clever Buoy in action on Bondi Beach
Matthew King

Clever Buoy in action on Bondi Beach

Cutting edge shark detection system now on trial at Bondi Beach

The big, sharped toothed beasties are out there, so knowing that someone is watching your back gives a lot of comfort. Along the Sydney coast, aerial patrols have helped in detecting threats but they simply can’t be everywhere. 

A lot of people, including the NSW government, are increasingly worried by the recent spate of shark attacks around the Australian coast, so a lot of money and attention is being pushed towards figuring out ways to reduce the risk.

Clever Buoy uses state of the art sonar imaging tech to detect sharks. When a shark is detected it sends a signal via the Inmarsat IsatData Pro satellite then securely via the Optus 4G network, to an app on nearby lifeguards phones (Optus is my carrier, so go team). The sonar has a range of 300 meters and it is calibrated to only flag creatures over 2 meters, so small critters passing by won’t set off any false alarms. 

As a result of testing at the Sydney Aquarium and in the Abrolhos Islands, the Clever Buoy is clear on what a shark signature looks like. In testing, it identified that sharks create a distinctive sonar signature and have a swimming pattern that is different to mammals. It is intended that the programming that runs Clever Buoy will adapt and develop with increasing knowledge of the difference between a shark’s patterns and that of other sea life. 

One of the guys behind Clever Buoy is Craig Anderson, who cites a detection rate of at least 90 per cent. "It uses a multi-beam sonar which is a relatively new sonar technology, coupled with some software which is very much like facial recognition technology for marine life," he said.

So any sharks that wander into the waters of Bondi Beach are going to be watched pretty carefully. It’s a pity the Clever Buoy doesn’t have miniature torpedoes as well, or drones with smart missiles. Now that would rock.

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