New AI predator detection tools available
4 mins read

New AI predator detection tools available

DOC AI Cam (DOC AI CAM, by The Cacophony Project/provided)

Thanks to support from the Department of Wildlife’s Tools to Market programme, two new smart predator detection and identification tools are now available for use in predator-free projects.

Cacophony’s “DOC AI CAM” and ASG Technologies Ltd.’s “PredaCAM” use AI technology with portable “cameras” to detect predators including rats, stoats and possums. The devices transmit information from remote locations to users, enabling a rapid, targeted response.

PredaCAM, author: ASG Technologies Ltd

Clayson Howell, DOC Landscape Threats Science Manager, says the Tools to Market program supports innovation in developing tools and technologies that will help achieve the Predator Free 2050 goal.

“In this case, we were looking for improved tools to detect predators in low numbers, such as during incursions into pest-free islands or areas where only a small number of predators remained.

“Both of these companies have pushed the boundaries by seamlessly integrating AI into their devices to enable rapid identification of predators in the field. This will dramatically reduce the cost and speed of predator identification, enabling targeted response.

“Although similar, the devices use different technologies that may have advantages in different areas. Now that they are on the market, these tools can be used and further tested in different environments.”

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Matthew Hellicar, program manager at The Cacophony Project, says DOC support has allowed them to redesign and upgrade their existing thermal camera, which automatically uploads footage to Cacophony’s cloud servers, where AI automatically identifies any invasive predators and then notifies users in real time.

“We’re really pleased that we’ve been able to reduce both the cost and the power requirements of the new DOC AI CAM. People are already using it in the field and we’re getting great feedback,” says Matthew Hellicar.

Two DOC AI CAM cameras are being used in response to a rat invasion on the pest-free island of Motutapu in the Hauraki Gulf and have proven to be an effective monitoring tool.

PredaCAM by ASG Technologies uses infrared technology and a cloud-based AI model to detect rats and send alerts instantly via the existing cellular network.

DOC funded the development of the PredaCAM camera hardware, while Predator Free 2050 Ltd funded the rat AI model, which is still being tested.

“We are excited about the positive impact this cutting-edge technology will have on conservation efforts across New Zealand,” says Matt Park, ASG Tech Operations Manager.

“Predator Free Wellington has already jumped on board and is testing PredaCAM on Mount Victoria, an area where predators still live.”

In initial field tests, PredaCAM achieved more than 80% accuracy in detecting rats in images. Predator Free Wellington is now testing the camera to see how well the AI ​​works in different environments. The camera is optimised for urban areas using a cellular network. The next version, scheduled for early 2025, will include satellite coverage to cover areas without access to the network.

These projects are two of five selected for support under the Tools to Market 2022 procurement round.

As part of its commitment to Predator Free 2050, DOC allocates $1 million annually to support the development of new tools for use in predator-free projects. Since 2017, 15 projects have been funded, including new baits, toxins, traps, and predator detection devices.

Predator Free 2050 is an ambitious goal to eliminate rats, possums and mustelids from Aotearoa New Zealand to allow native species to thrive.

General information

Market Tools Program

Project Cacophony DOC AI Camera

AGS PredaCAM Technologies

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