Australian government deploys facial recognition drones to save koalas

Koalas could be the latest animal to benefit from ultra high-tech artificial intelligence, as the South Australian government has announced plans to use drones and AI facial recognition to count koalas.

Drones will monitor individual koalas and entire populations in an attempt to analyse how well they're doing in terms of numbers, movement, behaviour, and physiology.

Researcher Dr Diane Colombelli-Negrel explained that monitoring the koalas by drone would be less invasive than traditional methods, which typically involved sending people to look up trees and capture the koalas by hand.

She said: "Koalas are declining in parts of Australia, and while in South Australia numbers are pretty good, the recent fires have reduced the numbers dramatically."

She added: "We need to ensure that we are aware of the new numbers and how they are recovering post fires, so we can then work towards reducing impacts that affect their survival."

Australia's iconic koala bear is under greater threat of extinction than ever following major wildfires in the last two years.

Kangaroo Island, one of the major koala habitats, saw populations reduce from 48,000 to roughly 8,500 in the 2020 wildfires.

Australia's environment minister David Speirs added: "It is very important for us to develop non-invasive techniques to help monitor animals in a safe way, and facial recognition through drone monitoring is utilising the latest technology to achieve this."

It's unclear exactly how the software they use will identify each koala individually, but similar efforts have seen researchers use AI-enabled infrared drones to track koala population.

  • 'Best ever' graphics on PS5 game as blown-away gamers call Ride 4 'unreal'

Other applications of facial recognition for animals used hundreds or even thousands of images of creatures to 'train' an AI how to spot differences and patterns.

Pest control company Rentokil this week announced plans to use facial recognition to hunt down rats, which works by analysing rats' skull shape and the colour of their fur.

Source: Read Full Article