Digital Owl – Saving our Species using drones and artificial intelligence

by Fujitsu

(Business)

A Global Compact member

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Fujitsu and the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) ‘Saving our Species’ program partnered on the ‘Digital Owl’ project that uses Fujitsu’s high-performance computing, video analytics and drone technology to capture and analyse video information over a broad geographic area, leading to better detection of endangered species.

Project implemented: May 2018

Project goal

The goal is to make the collection of conservation data faster, cheaper and more efficient with technology, leading to improved management plans and enabling more species to be protected.

delivering on

why is this project important?

There are over 1700 endangered or threatened species in Australia. This solution will help get better data for less, leading to better informed management plans and more species able to be conserved.

Key steps to make it happen

1Identify problem

Fujitsu & OEH identified the potential to use drones to replace costly helicopter flights.

2Pilot Mission

Drone partner Carbonix, Fujitsu & OEH flew a pilot mission with a 3M-wingspan drone in the Mt Dangar area of NSW.

impact to date

2
Endangered species detected

Working with the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) ‘Saving our Species’ program, the ‘Digital Owl’ project uses Fujitsu’s high-performance computing, video analytics and drone technology to capture and analyse video information over a broad geographic area. The information can then be used to help locate endangered species for management, and invasive plant species for eradication purposes.

The project was successfully trialed recently in remote bushland at Mount Dangar, NSW. The trial resulted in successful identification of the endangered plant species, Acacia dangarensis and Senecio linearifolius var. dangarensis, both of which are feared to be facing extinction, but were found growing in the wild.

NSW Environment Minister, Gabrielle Upton commented on the initiative’s ability to identify and monitor threatened species more effectively and cost-efficiently: “In NSW alone there are approximately 1,000 plant and animal species under threat of extinction. Saving these species is crucial to the ongoing health of the various ecosystems in NSW. However, monitoring such a broad area can be prohibitively expensive, especially when considering the cost of chartering and fueling helicopters. It’s exciting to be using new drone technology with detailed layers of analytics behind them to get more accurate information including maps of otherwise inaccessible areas.”

Lee Stewart, Head of Sustainability, Fujitsu Australia and New Zealand said, “This project is aligned with Fujitsu’s vision of using technology to help provide sustainable outcomes for our customers and society. It’s great to see our technology playing an important role in helping to save a species from extinction.”

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