“Previously, it took one operator to keep their eyes on the screen and the aircraft to be able to maintain situation awareness around the aircraft,” Trollope said.
“With the release of the app, we’re effectively looking at that screen to be able to try and see whether [the drone] was identifying anything.”
Trollope said that the company had worked with AWS over the last six months to push the system into the cloud to allow the company to “get rid of the hardware completely”.
The hyperscale cloud provider has similarly been responsible for reducing the streaming latency time, which can sit at anywhere between six to 30 seconds, to “under half a second for the first responder capability”.
Removing the need for hardware will likely need to an accelerated rollout of the program, which Trollope said “will continue to expand”.
The drones are currently in operation in 51 locations across Australia, with the bulk concentrated in the eastern states of Australia such as NSW and Queensland.
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While the drones has been a game changer for the automatic detection of sharks, people and now crocodiles, nailing down the detection of people in distress has been a more complex affair.
As reported by iTnews in June, the ability for a Little Ripper to automatically identity the signs of a swimmer in distress has been “very difficult” due to the limited amount of data to feed into the AI system.
“There’s very little data out there about people in distress, and what’s the difference between someone in distress and someone just waiving to the drone,” Trollope said.
“So what we’re now pushing for is the identification of a rip, and whether there’s people in that rip.
“Once we find that exact scenario where you do have a rip and you do have people in it, then the drone will respond to the alert the operator and drop a rescue body required.”
Trollope said that while the solution was still in development, the company wanted to ensure was right to avoid a “false sense of security”.
Other project such as the crocodile initiative with the Queensland government taking precedence in the winter period.
“Every flight we do as Little Ripper we’re continually detecting data. We’re collecting data on rips and people in rips, so we can continually feed that into the AI deep learning server to make it smarter,” he said.
“Once it is ready it will be released, but it’s not there yet. It something we want to make sure we get right.”
Long range ambitions
Alongside continuing to expand the existing drone program, the Ripper Group is also looking to introduce a long-range drone to autonomously patrol beaches in NSW within 12 months.
The drone, which has been acquired and will arrive in Australia within the next two weeks for testing, will be used to patrol between Sydney to Newcastle.
“We’re looking at around 150km or about two-and-a-half hours of flight time at this stage,” he said.
“As battery technology gets better it will only get better across the board.”
Trollope said the ability to have a long-range drone have been enabled by the AWS live stream capability, allowing operators to have near real-time vision.
Justin Hendry travelled to the AWS Public Sector Summit in Canberra as a guest of AWS. Got a news tip for our journalists? Share it with us anonymously here.