Drone helps protect endangered species



Chris McColl catches a camera-mounted drone after it flew over birds resting in the Delta on Nov. 21, 2014 near Walnut Grove, Calif. Scientists are using the device as a way to conduct a census of the sandhill crane population. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group/TNS)

A new purpose for drones has emerged, counting wildlife to preserve endangered species.

According to money.cnn, researchers in Australia were counting wildlife using drones and it was more accurate than traditional methods.

In an experiment they conducted using 2,000 decoy ducks, they found that using photos from a drone in the air was more effective than using binoculars and telescopes from the ground.

Since the counting can take time, the researches had trained a computer algorithm to automatically count. This algorithm had nearly accurate results as the researchers reviewing the photos. The algorithm works by dividing the picture into boxes and then identifying if pixels on the screen are wildlife or not.

Counting a certain species is crucial to preserving endangered ones. Drones are able to monitor different animals, their movement, and how many there are.

According to onlinelibrary.com, remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) have seen a rapid uptake by ecologists for data collection. This surge in popularity has arisen largely due to their ability to carry remote sensing instruments that collect data at scales highly suited to monitoring ecological phenomena.

In other experiments conducted, the counting from drones was between 46 percent to 96 percent more accurate than ground counts, depending on the ground height.

According to popsci.com, drones could be used to collect microbes from the air to monitor how diseases spread. Drones could fire tranquilizers at the animals that researchers want to put ID tags on, or collect samples of hair, blood, and scat.

With this new discovery about drones, the counting of wildlife just became a lot easier.