As we count down to Shark Week 2014, our summer vacations by the beach are often met with at least a tinge of fear when entering the water. Suspended nets in the ocean might keep sharks and humans separate, but they’re not 100% reliable and sharks as well as other marine animals tend to get trapped in them and die, which can have disastrous consequences to the ecosystem. However, the Clever Buoy, a new sonar-equipped intelligent buoy currently in development, might finally make it safer to enter shark-infested waters with no harm coming to either party.
Developed by Australian tech firm Optus, the Clever Buoy is a two-part system composed of a bobbing buoy anchored to a seabed-located box that emits sonar signals into the surrounding water. The buoy’s processor is designed to spot sea life over six-and-a-half feet long, and can detect shark-sized objects in the vicinity by analyzing the reflections of the sonar signals.
To lessen the chances of it being fooled by animals like dolphins, the Clever Buoy is smart enough to differentiate between how sea life propel themselves through the water and see if they are moving in a shark-like fashion. It only sends out warnings via a wireless satellite communications system when it is sure there’s a shark or other large predator in the vicinity.
Watch how it’s done in this video:
A series of the buoys could be arranged in a row offshore, running parallel to a beach. Whenever any of them detected a shark, it would send an alert (via satellite) to the local lifeguard’s smartphone. That person would then sound an alarm, telling all swimmers to get out of the water until the shark had moved on.
Not only would the system be more humane than nets, but it would also be easier to install and maintain. While there are existing buoy-based shark detection methods, such as the Sharksmart Shark Monitoring Network, the Clever Buoy would ideally detect all sharks instead of just those that had been previously caught and tagged.
The Clever Buoy technology has already successfully identified sharks in tests conducted at the Sydney Aquarium and Australia’s Abrolhos Islands. Optus hopes to have the system commercialized by the middle of next year.
Would you feel safer getting into the water with this device nearby?
Images and h/t Gizmodo
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