Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge
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Poaching and wildlife trafficking is third largest illegal business worldwide, behind drugs and weapons. In South Africa, home of the almost three-quarters of world wild rhinoceros and is incredibly important country for rhino conservation. Unfortunately, during the recent years, rhino poaching was spreading exponentially due to the fact that the rhino horns are valued on the black market higher that gold.
In order to assist wildlife rangers protecting rhinos, Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge has been set up. The founder of the Challenge and the CEO of Kashmir Robotics, Princess Alliyah envisions a fleet of small drones to patrol the skies, providing rangers with the information they need to protect endangered species from poachers.
So far there are 140 teams worldwide, taking up the challenge based on simulated wildlife poaching and trafficking activities. Each Challenge scenario will consist of three phases:
- phase one – each team will propose a concept that includes aircraft, sensors, embedded systems, communications and operational concepts
- phase two – teams will fabricate their aircraft, demonstrate air worthiness and safety at their local designated flying fields
- phase three – teams will compete in the Challenge scenario. Specifics of the scenario will not be released until the morning of the competition, so teams need to be prepared to adjust their flight profiles, sensor parameters and data processing as needed.
The winning design will be used in counter poaching activities in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Prizes for the top three teams (beside the feeling that they are doing something good for the mankind) are:
- $35.000 and a 10 day all-inclusive trip to the Kruger National Park
Hopefully, this challenge and the winning UAV will improve the rhino protection. The problem might be that criminal syndicates might also take notice of the UAV technology, and might just start using their own drones to locate wildlife and rangers, in order to further develop their ugly business. When that happens, Wildlife Conservation UAV Challenge needs to be elevated on the next level, and UAV design will need to include means of detection, identification and incapacitation of potentially hostile drones.