From Polar Bears to Whales, Intel Pushes the Boundaries of Wildlife Research with Drone and Artificial Intelligence

Intel Partners with Leading Science and Conservation Experts; Advances Research with Drone and Artificial Intelligence Innovation

  • Intel technologies are setting a new standard for safer, smarter, more efficient and less invasive research expeditions to protect our environment and gain further knowledge about the animal and human condition.
  • Intel and wildlife photographer explore the behavior patterns of polar bears in the Arctic through the lens of drone technology.
  • Intel works with Parley for the Oceans on Parley Snotbot, leveraging artificial intelligence to research whale blow as a leading indicator of our global health.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Oct. 4, 2017 – Today, on World Animal Day, Intel innovation reaches new heights in science exploration, with the announcement of two successful wildlife research expeditions, powered by Intel artificial intelligence (AI) and drone technologies. In two separate collaborations with a wildlife photographer and conservationist, as well as Parley for the Oceans*, Intel’s innovations are powering science exploration to help better understand the world around us in safer, more efficient and less invasive ways, allowing researchers to quickly act upon data that informs the longer-term health of our environment and humanity. Leveraging Intel drone and AI technologies for science exploration provides researchers with powerful tools to better inform their findings, giving them the ability to more quickly, safely, and cost-effectively gather and process critical data.

“Artificial intelligence is poised to help us solve some of our most daunting challenges by accelerating large-scale problem-solving, including unleashing new scientific discovery,” said Naveen Rao, vice president and general manager of the Artificial Intelligence Products Group at Intel Corporation. “Intel is proud to bring our expertise and technology to these research efforts and aid in the mission to better understand the health of our planet and, ultimately, humanity.”

Polar Bear Exploration
Traditional methods involving helicopters for exploration are invasive and costly. Paired with the treacherous arctic conditions, including freezing temperatures and heavy winds, exploration from a boat in these remote areas is challenging even for the most experienced researchers. In addition, the steel found in most boats can cause magnetic fields that challenge drone compasses making it extremely difficult to take off and land on a moving boat. Deploying drones is an alternative that provides greater access to researchers and wildlife experts.

Working with renowned wildlife photographer and conservationist, Ole Jørgen Liodden, the Intel® Falcon™ 8+ system is helping him track polar bear communities in the Arctic, capturing information on their behavior patterns, which will provide wildlife and environmental researchers with accurate, more reliable data that was captured in a safer and more efficient way. Tracking the polar bears’ behavior, breeding, feeding and migration habits helps scientists not only understand the effects of climate change on the Arctic, but also the health of the entire planet.

A recent expedition found that polar bears did not show any signs of distress or changes in behavior when the Intel Falcon 8+ drone was flown approximately 50 to 100 meters from the animals. The thermal camera payload made it easy to spot the bears against the colder background. This progress in studying polar bears with the Intel Falcon 8+ system creates new research opportunities, powering science exploration in ways never thought possible.

“Polar bears are a symbol of the Arctic,” said Liodden. “They are strong, intelligent animals. If they become extinct, there will be challenges with our entire ecosystem. Drone technology can hopefully help us get ahead of these challenges to better understand our world and preserve the earth’s environment.”

Whale Exploration
Intel is working with Parley for the Oceans to advance scientific understanding on the health of our oceans using artificial intelligence to analyze the condition of whales and the environment. Project Parley SnotBot uses Intel machine learning technology to help the alliance improve data analysis by running algorithms that can identify a particular whale and assess its health in real time, regardless of the presence of confounding factors, such as the whale’s unpredictable movements and limited ocean visibility. Through this advanced technology, researchers can make more timely decisions in the field and better understand the rich biological data that whale snot holds, including DNA, stress and pregnancy hormones, viruses, bacteria and toxins. So far, Parley SnotBot has been used to collect spout water from blue whales, right whales, gray whales, humpbacks and orcas in oceans around the world. Artificial intelligence gives whales a voice to share the health of our oceans and the environment.

“Parley Snotbot, a collaboration with Ocean Alliance and Intel, is a new and non-invasive research technology which allows us to explore our oceans in real time and open source data and knowledge,” said Cyrill Gutsch, Parley for the Oceans founder. “Our vision is to create a global network of digital exploration tools which generate the big data we need to identify threats with new speed and precision, so we can act on them instantly.”

For almost 50 years, Intel has been behind some of the most amazing technology and innovation to improve the world. Working alongside researchers to develop innovative methods to capture, process and analyze information about the environment, Intel is amplifying human capabilities and transforming the way people engage with the world.

For more information about Intel’s technology for good expeditions, visit Intel’s polar bear research page and “Researchers Deploy Test Drones to Track Arctic Polar Bears” on Intel iQ.

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