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#EpicDuckChallenge Shows We Can Count on Drones


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Rubber ducks.

University of Adelaide researchers have shown that monitoring wildlife using drones is more accurate than traditional counting methods.

Credit: Daytonducks.com

Researchers at the University of Adelaide in Australia have shown that monitoring wildlife using drones is more accurate than traditional counting.

The team set up an experiment in which they knew the correct number of animals in order to test the drone's counting accuracy. They knew they could not use wild animals because they would never be sure of the real number of individuals, and they solved this problem by using a few thousand rubber ducks and the #EpicDuckChallenge.

The researchers set up fake bird colonies made of decoy ducks and challenged experienced wildlife spotters and drone operators to count them. Because counting birds in photos takes a long time, the researchers produced a computer algorithm to count the ducks automatically, and they say the results were just as good as those of humans reviewing the imagery.

"Monitoring animals with drones produces better data that we can use to proactively manage wildlife," notes Adelaide's Jarrod Hodgson.

From University of Adelaide
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