AWS powers Queensland's new croc-spotting drones

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AWS powers Queensland's new croc-spotting drones
The croc-spotting drone.

Drone-maker Little Ripper has partnered with and other firms to create a service that could protect tourists from crocodiles in holiday destinations.

The project was initiated by the Queensland government after the privately-owned Ripper Group successfully used drones to identify sharks in New South Wales.

"It gives them a second set of eyes over the top of the human element to try and make it safer for crocodiles and the humans," Ben Trollope, the chief executive of Westpac Little Ripper drones, said in a telephone interview from Brisbane.

The Ripper Group has partnered with Amazon unit Amazon Web Services, in developing the capability of the new drone service, including reducing delays in transmitting footage, Trollope added.

"Amazon have been vital," he said. "They've opened up their whole capability, which has allowed us to quickly get to somewhere that could have taken quite a long time."

The drones use an algorithm created with the University of Technology in Sydney that developers say can identify 16 different types of marine life and has an accuracy rate of 93%.

The algorithm is adjusted to separate crocodiles from mangroves in northern Queensland's dense rainforest areas, a factor the ocean drones do not have to contend with.

"Everything is research for us. We're continually collecting data, teaching the algorithm to get smarter," Trollope added.

The drones featured at the World of Drones Congress in Brisbane on Thursday, where images were beamed in from a demonstration at a Queensland crocodile park.

(Reporting by Hans Lee; Edited by John Mair and Clarence Fernandez)

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