Using an infrared smartphone drone and artificial intelligence (AI), a high school student discovered elephant poachers illegally hunting for ivory. Four years ago, a 17-year-old from Chappaqua, New York, visited India and was surprised by the number of stalls filled with statues and ivory jewelry, even though the ivory trade was illegal. Detecting and capturing images of poachers is currently done using drones. However, they are not that appropriate. Moreover, China recently launched a massive drone ship – the world’s first semi-autonomous drone carrier.
A low-cost prototype of AI-driven software was created to analyze elephant and poacher movement patterns. However, this device, short for elephant savior, uses thermal infrared videos to determine what is a human and what is an elephant. Although the team realized that we could utilize the disparity between the two movement patterns to increase the ability of potential poachers to be detected, many people realized. Developed Elsa for two years and claims it is 90 percent accurate, four times better than the current technology.
The design also requires an off-the-shelf iPhone 6 and a $250 FLIR ONE Pro thermal camera with 206×156 pixel resolution. Plugging both devices into a drone and attaching them completes the process. Then, as it flies across elephant-containing parks, the budget system sends back real-time inferences and tells the operator who is nearby. Also, Snap has made a selfie drone camera named Pixy.
A smartphone drone can cover the most ground; UAV drones will fly at a high altitude of approximately 400 feet to cover most ground during elephant hunting at night. However, the Teen’s prototype cost only $300, while high-resolution thermal cameras cost up to $10,000 to deter poachers.
Recognizing their efforts, the Peggy Scripps Award for Science Communication took home $10,000 for the teens. During Stanford AI Lab’s summer program after ninth grade, then became aware of the capabilities of artificial intelligence for the first time. Initially, my enthusiasm for artificial intelligence with smartphone drones came from the limitless possibilities for social good; Teen tells Smithsonian.
As a result of human data collection and analysis, AI has biases. According to the Teen, it reinforces many of the worst aspects of our society. However, the results realized how crucial it is that women and people of color be at the forefront of this type of groundbreaking technology.