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Intel AI camera to help stop animal poaching

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on January 04, 2019 Published on January 04, 2019

TrailGuard AI will sends images to the rangers when a person or vehicle is detected unlike the current first-generation camera. Representative image.   -  The Hindu

TrailGuard AI targets 100 reserves in Africa throughout 2019

Chipmaker Intel has partnered with Non-profit RESOLVE to build a new TrailGuard AI camera that uses Intel-powered artificial intelligence technology to detect poachers entering Africa’s wildlife reserves and alert park rangers in near real-time so poachers can be stopped before killing endangered animals.

“By pairing AI technology with human decision-makers, we can solve some of our greatest challenges, including illegal poaching of endangered animals. With TrailGuard AI, Intel’s Movidius technology enables the camera to capture suspected poacher images and alerts park rangers, who will ultimately decide the most appropriate response.” Anna Bethke, head of AI for Social Good at Intel Corporation said.

TrailGuard AI uses Intel Movidius Vision Processing Units (VPUs) for image processing, running deep neural network algorithms for object detection and image classification inside the camera. If humans are detected among any of the motion-activated images captured by the camera, it triggers electronic alerts to park personnel so they can mobilise rangers before poachers can do harm.

According to National Geographic, an elephant is killed every 15 minutes by a poacher, at a rate of approximately 35,000 elephants per year. In a decade, experts predict there won’t be any more elephants. Rhinos, gorillas, tigers and other large mammals are also in danger from poachers, as are giraffes, antelopes and wildebeest that are often caught in poachers’ snares.

With the first-generation camera, rangers receive many photos that they had to manually review to determine if there is a poaching threat or a false-positive triggered by other motion. By adding an additional layer of AI into the system, TrailGuard AI knows when a potential poacher is present, allowing park rangers to rapidly intercept and apprehend.

Instead of alerting the rangers anytime there is motion in front of the camera, including from shifting cloud cover, birds and animals, TrailGuard AI only sends images to the rangers when a person or vehicle is detected. Fewer false-positives means rangers have more time to focus on their work, instead of spending their time looking through hundreds of false alerts each day.

The camera is designed to perform in the wild for up to 1.5 years without depleting the battery. Due to the miniscule size of the Intel Movidius VPU, TrailGuard AI is about the size of a pencil and easier to hide and camouflage from poachers and wild animals.

“The Intel Movidius VPU allowed us to revolutionise TrailGuard AI by adding artificial intelligence to a proven end-to-end solution to stop illegal poaching around the world,” said Eric Dinerstein, director of biodiversity and wildlife at RESOLVE. “In addition to providing the AI technology, Intel engineers worked closely with us to build, test and optimize this incredible anti-poaching solution that will make a real difference in saving animals.”

In partnership with the National Geographic Society, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and others, TrailGuard AI will be deployed in 100 reserves in Africa throughout 2019, starting with Serengeti and Garamba, with plans to expand to Southeast Asia and South America.

Published on January 04, 2019
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