Saving the orangutans with deep learning, data analytics and drones

In Conservation by EmilyLeave a Comment

UAS are now popularly used as a tool for media, mapping and inspection, with RGB cameras being the most commonly used sensor.However, drones are also capable of being programmed to pick up radio signals in order to monitor and track wildlife in an effort to help understand their behaviour and aid in the fight against habitat destruction and extinction. This less conventional application is currently being tested in the rainforest of Borneo with orangutans. I know it might sound a tenuous link between drone technology and smart machines, but bear with me…

How to trace orangutans in tropical forest?
Orangutans reside in tropical forest with a thick layer of canopy. While it is difficult to capture visuals above the canopy, drones can carry sensors to pick up signals from implanted VHF beacons, allowing the tracing of their movements without disturbing their daily activities.

How does tracking orangutans help to save them from going extinct?
UAVs help to reach out to hard-to-reach areas without exposing the researchers’ presence in the area, allowing them to map and visualise potential threats to the survival of orangutans. Tracking their activities can also help us understand and predict their behaviour, learning about the needs and risks of these endangered species, reduce human-animal conflicts, improving the way we manage wildlife in the country.

So what does deep learning and data analytics have to do with this?
Deep learning is a class of methods that can be used to facilitate drone autonomy and improve situational awareness. Deep learning methods also can play a large role in the analysis of sensor data, with vision being the most prominent example (e.g., to detect and count orangutan nests).

Want to find out more? Join us at The 2nd Commercial UAV Show Asia 2016 to get more first-hand information on this topic from Dirk Gorissen, Data innovation consultant of The World Bank, Head of R&D of Skycap and Founder of Machine Doing. Click to find out more about Dirk and his involvement in the conference.

Book your tickets for The Commercial UAV Show Asia here.

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