Conservation AI: Live Stream Analysis for the Detection of Endangered Species Using Convolutional Neural Networks and Drone Technology

10/16/2019 ∙ by C. Chalmers, et al. ∙ 29

Many different species are adversely affected by poaching. In response to this escalating crisis, efforts to stop poaching using hidden cameras, drones and DNA tracking have been implemented with varying degrees of success. Limited resources, costs and logistical limitations are often the cause of most unsuccessful poaching interventions. The study presented in this paper outlines a flexible and interoperable framework for the automatic detection of animals and poaching activity to facilitate early intervention practices. Using a robust deep learning pipeline, a convolutional neural network is trained and implemented to detect rhinos and cars (considered an important tool in poaching for fast access and artefact transportation in natural habitats) in the study, that are found within live video streamed from drones Transfer learning with the Faster RCNN Resnet 101 is performed to train a custom model with 350 images of rhinos and 350 images of cars. Inference is performed using a frame sampling technique to address the required trade-off control precision and processing speed and maintain synchronisation with the live feed. Inference models are hosted on a web platform using flask web serving, OpenCV and TensorFlow 1.13. Video streams are transmitted from a DJI Mavic Pro 2 drone using the Real-Time Messaging Protocol (RMTP). The best trained Faster RCNN model achieved a mAP of 0.83 @IOU 0.50 and 0.69 @IOU 0.75 respectively. In comparison an SSD-mobilenetmodel trained under the same experimental conditions achieved a mAP of 0.55 @IOU .50 and 0.27 @IOU 0.75.The results demonstrate that using a FRCNN and off-the-shelf drones is a promising and scalable option for a range of conservation projects.



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