Ever since Jaws broke the box office in the summer of ’75, people have imagined the horror of being eaten by a shark. Nonetheless, they continue to swim in the ocean. Although malicious shark attacks (i.e. those that are unprovoked by human contact) killed only five people worldwide in 2017, the general paranoia remains high. But if the Clever Buoy, an AI-powered shark detector, becomes commonplace in shark-infested waters, the reign of terror that began over 42 years ago may finally be put to bed.
How It Works
The Clever Buoy was invented by Craig Anderson, founder of Australia’s Shark Mitigation Systems. Anderson explains that the buoy uses swim patterns, which he likens to “footprints,” to monitor shark activity. It employs a combination of AI (artificial intelligence) and dual-wave sonar to spot large species of marine life underwater with much more precision than a common fish-finder tool. For further reference, Anderson has also compared the Clever Buoy to modern facial recognition technology.
The modular system automatically adapts to the geography and depth of the area it’s in. Since it runs entirely on solar power, the Clever Buoy is also linked to a set of solar transducers, which themselves can either be affixed to a nearby pier or the ocean floor. It casts a theoretical “net” over a radius of about 394 feet and detects all forms of oceanic life within that space.
How It Could Protect People
Most people would rather just avoid shark-infested waters altogether, but more often than not, sharks can’t be detected by the human eye unless their fins are jutting out above the water. On top of that, conventional shark-spotting techniques like aerial patrols by drones, planes, or helicopters often fall short. Clever Buoy easily distinguishes large sharks from other types of ocean animals and immediately transmits warning indicators to the shore, where human workers can intercede and start clearing the area of swimmers and surfers until it’s deemed safe again.
Where It’s Been, Where It’s Going
The Clever Buoy was first installed in Australia, the place where it was born. In July 2015, the device starred in an episode of Bondi Rescue, a documentary-style TV show broadcast in the country since 2006. The show centers on the lives and jobs of the Waverley Council professional lifeguards that protect Bondi Beach. Working alongside a representative from Shark Mitigation Systems, the lifeguard team successfully ran a Clever Buoy through its paces. The detection system was heartily endorsed by the Bondi lifeguards and quickly incorporated into the Bondi Beach management system.
Clever Buoy’s next stop was California. Adamantly supported by Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the innovative device received its first American assignment in February of 2017. Its premiere will take place at Big Corona in Corona del Mar, a spot just outside Huntington Beach where one 2016 shark attack almost claimed a person’s life.
A deal between Shark Mitigation Systems and the Newport Beach City Council is also close to being finalized. The city will lease the first American Clever Buoy for somewhere between $10,000 and $15,000 a month.
If you live near the ocean, keep your eye out for a Clever Buoy in the water. If you see one, you may never have to fear swimming with the sharks again!