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The Robot Eyes Have It: Cutting-Edge Tool For Koala Conservation

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The drones will be equipped with artificial intelligence and statistical-analysis software.

Drones are part of a new tool for koala conservation developed by Queensland University of Technology researchers.

Credit: QUT

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers are developing technologies they say could provide less expensive and more accurate koala-tracking methods.

The researchers plan to use drones equipped with artificial intelligence and statistical-analysis software to protect vulnerable koala populations.

"Using small drones to take images is becoming more common but we know of no others combining this with cutting-edge analytical technologies that draw meaning from those images," says QUT professor Felipe Gonzalez.

The researchers found thermal imaging can detect even well-camouflaged koalas, and the counting and tracking algorithms enable them to differentiate the shape of a koala from other animals.

Although the project focuses on koala populations, the technology could be adapted for other species, according to the researchers. The technology also will help monitor koalas' movements and population fluctuations over time.

"Understanding the abundance of a species in an area is fundamental to the management of that species--and the more regularly and accurately you can monitor the health of the population, the better," says QUT researcher Grant Hamilton. "This combination of technology can provide councils with a wealth of rich data a human cannot, such as exact [global-positioning system] locations and high-resolution imaging."

From QUT News
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