Smart drone technology is being developed to help eradicate predators

Imagine a land with birds chirping, lizards crawling, and flowering plants. This is a vision that brings nature conservation workers and volunteers out the door.

Unfortunately, modern methods of eradicating predators are not 100 percent effective. The use of 1080 in large areas requires large buffer zones to avoid waterways, Wahi Tapu, and private land.

These zones became shelters for imported predators. They multiply uncontrollably and evacuate the surrounding areas.

Using drone technology

How do you get to the districts to achieve 100 percent elimination?

With new technology and new thinking.

Craig Morley, associate professor of resource management at the Rotorua Institute of Technology, has dedicated his life to controlling predators.

He says he “fell in love with drones” in 2013 when he started thinking about what drones offered for the free movement of predators.

“For the first time, I witnessed an attempt to deliver toxins by hiking to distant places. You need to cut or maintain the trails – there is often some danger to the safety of people in difficult terrain.

And and disappointed, the paths you cut will help familiar predators navigate the bush.

Moreover, while the widespread baiting and trapping of toxins is an excellent hitting strategy, achieving elimination with these strategies alone is very, very difficult – thanks to their required buffer zones.

The drones offered a way to solve both problems correctly. “But only if the technology is accurate and efficient,” he said.

Looking for partners to help him develop the technology he needed, he came across an X-craft.

Craig appealed to Philip Solaris, CEO of X-Craft, about his “crazy idea” to use drones to control predators on difficult terrain.

AGMARDT And Toi Ohomai provided primary seed funding. And they united with the shore Aerospread technologies Develop an exciting new drone for predator control that takes accuracy to a new level.

Not your average drones

What distinguishes them from drones?

Duet drones are about accuracy. Thoroughly programmed flight paths, drones can navigate difficult waterways, dense bushes and steep ravines – all areas that are currently very difficult or very time consuming to manage.

The planes use a sophisticated guidance system that can accurately determine targets within a few meters, anywhere, at any time.

This is done in relation to the aircraft autopilot system with GPS positioning using Global Navigation Satellite system technology, as well as other computer-based calculations.

Says Philip: “Anyone can drop things off a plane. But it is the precision on the ground – where the goal is – that counts. “Achieving that accuracy is not as easy as it sounds.”

To improve this accuracy, drones drop bait in a limited mode, using food (and tasty) biodegradable nests that open when they hit the ground. Even in the thickest dirt of the bush, the bushes run 0-2.5 meters from the target.

They are also cost effective and time consuming – they can drop 120+ bait branches in three hours. No terrain is inaccessible. Aircraft are easy to transport and they can take off from almost anywhere.

A drone is being installed. Image Credit: Craig Morley

So far, they have tested their planes in test locations with excellent results. Because the drops are located on all GPS, it is easy to do further surveys on the ground to see if the bait rods have been eaten.

The group found a proven reduction in the number of posum and rodents in the test sites.

Data is power

While accurate bait drops are a major part of their design, Craig and Philip have further ambitions.

An accurate drop means that accurate data is also available. To collect this data, they develop sensory nests that can be dropped with the bait or independently.

Like bait shrubs, sensory varieties are specifically designed to attract imported predators – using biodegradable materials that are irreversible to their target species.

Sensors use artificial intelligence to detect sounds and movements around them.

Craig says

“Each animal has a different signature.”

This programming allows them to identify high – or low – activity areas. They can also tell you what type of animals are where they are.

Drones fly on shells and collect data, creating valuable maps and information for future bait drops.

“Data is power,” says Philip. “And that’s really the only way to quantify what you do.”

While sensor technology is still in the research and development stage, Craig and Philip hope it will be operational soon.

In the future, they believe that touch rings will be limited to high activity areas, which will make the process more efficient and reduce the number of bait required.

The system can be enlarged or reduced to suit different projects in different zones – or adapted to focus on different predator species. Craig and Philip are both excited about the possibilities that touchscreens open up for research and development.

The system may sound complicated, but it can make the control of imported predators much easier. Says Philip: “The key is to collect solid, accurate data reliably. “Because your ability to accelerate efficiency increases with the knowledge you acquire.”

Do you want help?

Craig and Philip believe that the meticulous accuracy of their drones can accelerate Predator Free 2050 vision and are looking for partners to support their mission. They also need groups to conduct experiments with interested predator control groups.

If you would like to get involved, contact Craig at [email protected]

With the right support, they can be ready to take off in a year. These planes can cover the gaps that will return the birds call.

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For more information:

Predator Free NZ Trust

Smart drone technology is being developed to help eradicate predators

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