In this second installment of our occasional series entitled “Skynet is Coming, Skynet is Coming!” we look at a “Good Terminator” scenario: using drones to protect endangered species in Africa through the Air Shepherd program.
What happens when you mix supercomputers, drones, social conscience – and the will and money to use all three?
In the case of Air Shepherd, you get an international mash-up of a non-profit foundation, a university computer science department, a drone solutions company, and sovereign governments working together to eliminate poaching of elephants and rhinos in Africa.
And it appears to be working.
Amazing what happens when you can predict where illegal poachers will be; actually find them with drones; and send those coordinates – along with both photographic and thermal imaging — back to local authorities.
It's also more than a little poetic that the non-profit involved is the Charles A. and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation.
The next step is to raise an additional $500,000 on Indiegogo. They’re already raised $159,000 on the way to that goal.
You can learn more at Air Shepherd Drones Stop Elephant & Rhino Poaching Indiegogo campaign.AirShepherd programs uses drones, supercomputers to prevent poaching in Africa Click To Tweet
Air Shepherd Breakthrough on Poaching
Supercomputer-Powered Drones Shut Down Rhino Poaching in This Park—Can They Save Africa’s Elephants Too?
The flying robots predict where poachers will target wildlife and send in rangers to stop them before they can pull the trigger.
Drones deployed in South Africa’s Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park have eliminated the killing of endangered rhinoceroses over the past six months, according to Air Shepherd, the nonprofit program that operates the machines. It’s a stunning statistic, given that poachers had been shooting between 12 and 19 rhinos a month.
These aren’t just any drones. Guided by a supercomputer that predicts where poachers will appear, the flying robots show ranger teams where to apprehend the killers before they can pull the trigger. A ground crew equipped with a 3-D printer, meanwhile, keeps the drones aloft by making replacement parts for the machines on the fly.
“It works because we can see the animals and the poachers in the dark with our thermal imaging cameras, and we already know where they’re both going to be before they’re there,” said John Petersen, chairman of the Minnesota-based nonprofit Lindbergh Foundation, which runs Air Shepherd.
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(cover photo credit: snap from TakePart)