QUT researchers step up koala conservation efforts with AI hub

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Researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) have set up an AI center to expand the use of drones and infrared imagery as part of efforts to scale up conversational work around the protection of endangered animals, such as koalas.

Last year, QUT researchers recognized that using AI-enabled infrared drones could help accurately identify koala populations located in areas affected by bushfires and dense bush.

Research manager Grant Hamilton said creating the AI ​​hub will now allow the team to develop the system and work with local conversation groups and organizations, such as Landcare, which can help use the tools. drones and thermal imaging detection to study areas affected by bushfires for koalas. , before transmitting the raw data to the QUT hub for analysis.

“This system will allow Landcare groups, conservation groups, organizations working on species protection and monitoring to study large areas in their regions across Australia using drones and thermal imaging detection. , and send the data back to us where we can. It’s citizen science on a much larger scale, “he said, describing her as a” game changer. ”

Hamilton added that one of the strengths of the system was the integrated connection that exists between the ground monitoring system and the backend of the QUT data portal. Previously, the team had to rely on data stored on physical hard drives and delivered by mail, but now data can be downloaded from anywhere and processed immediately.

“Creating an extensive network for efficient data collection and rapid analysis will allow us to manage endangered species at scales that were not possible before,” he said.

The system will first be tested with Noosa and District Landcare, and Watergum, who will conduct drone surveys to create a census of koalas and other endangered species in the area.

“This system will enable targeted activities on the ground to achieve management results for koalas and other wildlife in areas affected by bushfires, effectively and efficiently increasing the resilience of these areas. And it can also be used to identify pest species to manage in those areas, ”Hamilton said.

There are plans to eventually expand the system to other community groups across the country, QUT said.

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