Photos; video: Clever shark detector to keep beaches safe

Oh Buoy: Curtis Schur, an ATSA Defence Services electrical engineer, with the Clever Buoy shark detector. Picture: Jonathan CarrollA Thornton company is building world-first technology to detect sharks at beaches and send warning signals to lifeguards.

Theories that sharks could not be detected with sonar were proven wrong,ATSA chief technology officer Darren Burrowes said.

“If you look on the internet, there’s a lot of information that says you can’t see sharks with sonar,” Mr Burrowes said.

“We put a sonar in the Sydney aquarium where we knew there were sharks and detected them.”

A subsequent test was done off the Abrolhos Islands inWestern Australia, which detected sharks with sonar in the wild.

A team of four engineers at ATSA Defence Services was working on the device, dubbed “Clever Buoy”.

Mr Burrowes said the work had been “a great engineering project for the team to work on”.

“It’s been a bit of pressure but a lot of fun,” he said.

“There’s lots of parts to it.”

He said the buoy would be tested in the ocean early next year, with the aim of keeping it there for 30 days without maintenance.

“It’s definitely difficult to do – the ocean’s a harsh place,” he said.

“The technology is available, it’s just a matter of putting it together and getting it working.”

The NSW government has agreed to trial the technology in a shark strategy that includes aerial surveillance and shark nets.

Perth company Shark Mitigation Systems contracted ATSA to build the buoy.

“The Clever Buoy uses sonar technology to detect shark-sized objects in coastal areas in a non-invasive way,” a Shark Mitigation Systems statement said.

“When a detection is made, the buoy will relay a signal via the Optus network to lifeguards on the beach.”

The Clever Buoy used “intuitivetechnology that can be programmed to learn the details of what it’s designed to detect”.

“It differentiates between the length of an object and its propulsion through the water using sonar signatures.”

The buoy would be developed to detect the difference between the sonar signature of a shark and other sea life.

Shark Mitigation Systems director Hamish Jolly said the oil and gas industry used software to prevent seals and other mammals from getting into subsea turbines.

“We’re calibrating that software to be able to hunt for the sonar signature of a large shark,” Mr Jolly said in a YouTube video.

“If we’re successful with this, we may solve a big slab of the shark mitigation or shark attack problem off our beaches.”

Mr Burrowes said technology to repel sharks, if developed in future, could be added to the buoys.

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