Making a Splash: AI Can Help Protect Ocean Goers From Deadly Rips

by Brian Caulfield

Surfers, swimmers and beachgoers face a hidden danger in the ocean: rip currents. These narrow channels of water can flow away from the shore at speeds up to 2.5 meters per second, making them one of the biggest safety risks for those enjoying the ocean.

To help keep beachgoers safe, Christo Rautenbach, a coastal and estuarine physical processes scientist, has teamed up with the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand to develop a real-time rip current identification tool using deep learning.

On this episode of the NVIDIA AI Podcast, host Noah Kravitz interviews Rautenbach about how AI can be used to identify rip currents and the potential for the tool to be used globally to help reduce the number of fatalities caused by rip currents.

Developed in collaboration with Surf Lifesaving New Zealand, the rip current identification tool has achieved a detection rate of roughly 90% in trials. Rautenbach also shares the research behind the technology, which was published in the November 22 edition of the journal Remote Sensing.

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Featured image credit: T. Caulfield