Get Regular Updates!
|Westpac Little Ripper takes shark patrol to the skies


Westpac Little Ripper takes shark patrol to the skies

Westpac Little Ripper takes shark patrol to the skies

Drones are becoming smaller and more advanced each day. Now they’re helping to create safer opportunities to enjoy the sea and surf.

Westpac Little Ripper takes shark patrol to the skies

As a nation of surfers and beach lovers, we spend a lot of time in the ocean.

This can include exposure to many curious, vibrant marine animals. Most are harmless, but a few can be deadly.

Without surveillance, these animals may present danger to us—in particular, sharks.

Shark attack stats

According to this report, WA had six cases of unprovoked shark encounters in 2017. This included two injuries and one fatality in Esperance, WA. This was the highest number of encounters of all the states that year.

View Larger
In the past 100 years, WA has recorded 17 fatalities and 59 injuries due to unprovoked encounters

The numbers might not be as high as fatalities from lighting strikes and car accidents, but it’s worth monitoring and trying to keep human/shark interactions to a minimum.

But how do we keep an eye on sharks without interfering in their natural habitats?

Drone technology makes waves

The miniaturisation of technology has allowed rapid advances in drone technology. The miniaturisation was mainly driven by mass production of consumer products, such as smartphones. But it’s been good news for drone technology, lowering costs and increasing accessibility in the production of drones.

This commercialisation allows for a variety of uses in our day-to-day lives, such as taking to the skies for beach and surf surveillance of sharks.

With appropriate cameras, a drone can identify sharks and other marine life. It can then alert lifesavers and swimmers nearby using messages, sirens and visual warnings.

View Larger
An aerial view gives lifesavers a larger field of view than on the ground

If you want to get really high tech, you can use artificial intelligence to ‘train’ drones with the thousands of images captured using its camera. Using the images, an algorithm could be created to help the drone accurately identify various ocean life and objects.

You little ripper

One example of this is the Westpac Little Ripper drone. This drone is part of Westpac’s Lifesaver Initiative, as seen in this video:

Video|Little Ripper Lifesaver Australia
Cameras used on drones are able to identify the difference between sharks, whales & dolphins below the surface of the water

The Westpac Little Ripper Lifesaver used an artificial intelligence-based system to become the world’s first autonomous shark-detecting drone. It was developed by the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to detect sharks in real time with high accuracy.

The Westpac Little Ripper has patrolled five of Perth’s beaches. One patrol resulted in spotting sharks on two occasions at Secret Harbour in the south of Perth.

So what other applications will we see?

Shark patrol is just one way to use drones to save lives. They can also assist in other emergency situations at sea, such as carrying flotation devices and rescue packages to assist lifeguards or swimmers.

Whether at sea or on land, it won’t be long before we see many more emergency drones flying in for the rescue.

Particle Puns


Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.


You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.


Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.


All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.


For more information about using our content, email us:

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?