Today’s Video of the Day from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) describes a new method for estimating the number of surviving koalas in areas affected by the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires.
Led by Professor Grant Hamilton, the QUT scientists have developed an AI algorithm that uses the number of koalas automatically detected in infrared drone images of bushland.
Study lead author Evangeline Corcoran said that finding wildlife in a complex environment could be very challenging.
“We never have perfect knowledge, so we never know exactly how many koalas were there when we do a count,” said Corcoran.
“No matter how accurate the drone cameras, a koala could be hiding behind a branch when the drone flies over the area or perhaps one koala is counted twice in an aerial survey”.
“That’s why we generally have a margin of error. We use different terminology, but for example in general terms our current count might have an error margin of plus or minus ten percent. That means we’re confident that the true number of koalas is somewhere within the margin of error.”
“By accounting for different factors about the site that can impact on how many koalas we detect, we’re making the margin of error smaller and so making our estimates more accurate.”
“In this way, we are deriving a count figure that accounts for more factors such as temperature, which is an important consideration because our thermal cameras give a more accurate estimate when its colder, and the density of the forest canopy.”
Professor Hamilton is currently involved in a project in which he is using his artificial intelligence (AI) system to search for the surviving koala population on Kangaroo Island.
Video Credit: QUT