AI Drones in Africa Track Illegal Fishing, Poaching and Deforestation
A Moroccan, 37-year-old Badr Idrissi, has developed intelligent drones that track illegal fishing, poaching and deforestation activities. Idrissi and a friend, Younes Moumen, co-founded ATLAN Space, a technology startup developing unmanned aerial vehicles with artificial intelligence to man the environment and protect natural resources in Africa, UNEP reports.
Idrissi said he and Moumen were compelled to do something to protect African waters and natural resources when they learned that Mauritania, Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Sierra Leone lose up to $2.3 billion every year to illegal fishing operations. So they developed drones programmed to be self-reliant and capable of making independent decisions based on environmental data collected in any given region.
ATLAN Drones Work and Think Independently To Report Percieved Illegal Fishing Far Out At Sea
The drones are fed with and collect information regarding protected marine areas, illegal fishing hotspots and weather conditions including the intelligence to distinguish between each factor. Based on these, a drone can decide which areas of a wide marine expanse to visit and analyze the behavior of any fishing boat it detects to determine if it is engaging in illegal fishing activity. If the drone independently concludes from various contexts that a boat is engaging in illegal fishing, it remotely reports the situation to relevant authorities.
ATLAN Space’s drones do not rely on any human interaction or supervision to monitor very large marine areas and report illegal environmental activities. They can cover up to 10,000 square kilometers of marine areas and fly high at over 300 meters where non-military equipment cannot hamper their work.
“If the drone is 95 percent sure that behavior is illegal, it will send the relevant local authorities information detailing the time of the occurrence, the GPS coordinates, the location and any other relevant data that will help them decide on the course of action,” Idrissi revealed.
Drones To Be Deployed To Tackle Wildlife Poaching, Deforestation and Illegal Mining
The National Geographic awarded ATLAN Space with funding to partner its FishGuard pilot program. Using this program, ATLAN will deploy its drones to combat illegal fishing activities in Seychelles. Norwegian analytical firm Trygg Mat Tracking and international organization Grid-Arendal are also included under the program.
Idrissi revealed that deploying FishGuard is very affordable subject to certain parameters specific to each project. According to him, “It doesn’t only include the technological element, but also capacity building for a sustainable ocean resources management strategy.”
He added that apart from the fact that the drones enable operators to see what is happening at sea far away from them, it gives poachers something else to think about since they are aware of being watched. He disclosed that following the successful launch of the Seychelles project, his firm will deploy the drones to tackle deforestation, illegal mining and other environmental challenges very soon.