Artificial Intelligence and Drones Help Combat Poaching in Africa

Boston-based AI startup Neurala has partnered with the Lindbergh Foundation in an effort to combat poaching in Africa using intelligent drones and deep learning.

“This is a terrific example of how AI technology can be a vital force for good,” said Neurala CEO Max Versace. “We’re thrilled to be working with the Lindbergh Foundation in this unique partnership, contributing our deep learning software to such a worthwhile cause and doing our part to preserve endangered species.”

According to the Lindbergh Foundation, rhino poaching has increased by 9,000 percent in South Africa over the past decade and one elephant is killed every 14 minutes — at this rate, elephants and rhinos will be extinct within 10 years. In response, the foundation launched its non-profit Air Shepard program to protect the animals from illegal poaching activities.

Neurala’s AI technology will assist human analysts by automatically sifting through terabytes of video, including infrared, taken by drones in real-time. Using cuDNN with Tesla P100 GPUs to train their deep learning models, Neurala’s networks can track, pinpoint and even predict the paths of animals, vehicles and poachers, learning more and more as time goes on.

Currently, Air Shepherd’s team patrols Liwonde National Park and Nkhotakota Wildlife Reserve in Malawi, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in South Africa, and Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe.

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