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AI software created for drones monitors wild animals and poachers


US-based Neurala hopes the AI-powered surveillance technology will help protect endangered species.

Artificial intelligence software installed into drones is to be used by US tech company Neurala to help protect endangered species from poachers. Working with the region’s Lingbergh Foundation, Neurala is currently helping operations in South Africa, Malawi and Zimbabwe and have had requests from Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia for assistance with combatting poaching.

The software is designed to monitor video as it is streamed back to researchers from unmanned drones that can fly for up to five hours, identifying animals, vehicles and poachers in real time without any human input. It can then alert rangers via the mobile command center if anything out of the ordinary is detected. The software can analyze regular or infrared footage, and therefore works with video taken day or night.

The Lindbergh Foundation will be deploying the technology as part of operation Air Shepherd, which is aimed at protecting elephants and rhinos in Southern Africa from poachers. According to the Foundation, elephants and rhinos are at risk of being extinct in just 10 years if current poaching rates continue, and has logged 5,000 hours of drone flight time over the course of 4,000 missions to date.

The use of drones within business models is proving popular, with recent innovations including a drone painting system that created crowdfunded murals and two Swiss hospitals that used a drone to deliver lab samples between them. How else could drones be utilized for the greater good?




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