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Robots Bi-Weekly πŸ€–: Outpost Edition 2, Earth Day Boogaloo 🌎

In honor of National Park Week and Earth Day, it’s time for another Outpost edition of Robots Bi-Weekly (check out that new name). Let’s take a look at how AI is saving nature, shall we?

Monitoring for Illegal Pollution ♻️

Using satellite imagery and an image recognition model, researchers were able to locate almost 600 more concentrated animal feeding operations (really big animal farms) than had previously been known about. Just in North Carolina.

These farms generate a lot of manure. Manure which can find its way into waterways. A permit is needed to dump waste into a waterway (not sure why it’s allowed at all), but the EPA estimates that roughly 60% probably don’t have one of these.

So locating these facilities will allow for better tracking and potential monitoring. The goal in the future is to identify possible waterway pollution using an AI model.

Stopping Poachers 🐯

Predictive analytics are all the rage in business, but now they could also help prevent poaching. Researchers from USC trained a model on historical poaching data from wildlife parks and sanctuaries in Uganda and Cambodia. The system was then used to predict areas where poachers might poach next.

Did it work? In the test in Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda rangers found activity in 38 cells and the observed risk levels matched up with the systems predicted levels. In Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Cambodia, rangers discovered and removed 521 snares during the test month. Prior to the test they averaged 101 snares per month. TL;DR: yeah, it worked.

Stopping Illegal Logging 🌳

Finally, a use for old smartphones! Thanks to Rainforest Connection, your old iPhone can now find a second life helping to prevent illegal logging.

Rainforest Connection hooks old smartphones up to solar panels for power and uses an AI system to detect the sound of chainsaws via the microphone and send alerts to local rangers with location info so they can respond quickly to potential illegal logging activity.

Bonus Zone 🎁

These aren’t AI related, but they are save the planet related, so enjoy!


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