Local, Science/Environment

Surfers will be ‘appy with new shark intelligence

Professional surfer turned business entrepreneur Sarah Beardmore is set to launch new Australian shark spotting technology via Dorsal, the free app she co-founded.

After months of training the artificial intelligence software to detect sharks using drones, Ms Beardmore says Dorsal, and new technical partner Onboard Smarts, are in the final stages of field trials.

“Using drones in real-time means shark alerts can be pushed out to more than a quarter of a million existing Dorsal users, and the natural extension of this will be to use the drone itself to alert those in the ocean and guide lifesavers quickly to the area of concern.”

The leading-edge technology, which includes using a live feed to assist with beach safety and shark management, will provide more efficient water safety strategies. The NSW Department of Primary Industries has shown support for the innovative solutions and technology.

“We have spent thousands of hours training the AI technology to recognise the difference between sharks and other marine life, humans, jet skis etc and we have the capabilities to train the AI to recognise just about anything,” Ms Beardmore said.

In 2015 Ms Beardmore co-founded the app Dorsal, now the world’s leading community-based shark alerting and reporting service, after she studied a business degree online through Southern Cross University while competing on the World Qualifying Surf tour.

“Studying business through the University’s Elite Athlete Program was the best decision I ever made to maximise those skills, connections, ideas and managing change while I was still on tour,” she said.

“The Dorsal app is no longer just about crowdsourced reporting, but this partnership means we now have a whole supported content management system to help manage and analyse the information. Reports come from official channels as well as public sightings which are mediated before releasing to the app.”

Sarah Beardmore out in the waves.

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