Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Computer Science


Computer Science


College of Engineering


Franz Kurfess

Advisor Department

Computer Science

Advisor College

College of Engineering


Recent years have seen several projects across the globe using drones to detect sharks, including several high profile projects around alerting beach authorities to keep people safe. However, so far many of these attempts have used cloud-based machine learning solutions for the detection component, which complicates setup and limits their use geographically to areas with internet connection. An on-device (or on-controller) shark detector would offer greater freedom for researchers searching for and tracking sharks in the field, but such a detector would need to operate under reduced resource constraints. To this end we look at SSD MobileNet, a popular object detection architecture that targets edge devices by sacrificing some accuracy. We look at the results of SSD MobileNet in detecting sharks from a data set of aerial images created by a collaboration between Cal Poly and CSU Long Beach’s Shark Lab. We conclude that SSD MobileNet does suffer from some accuracy issues with smaller objects in particular, and we note the importance of customized anchor box configuration.