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Elephants vs Trains: AI Helps Ensure They Don't Collide


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An elephant crossing train tracks in rural India.

Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC)-BarcelonaTech researchers developed a "smart ear" to help prevent fatal collisions involving elephants and trains in India.

Credit: Rikkis Refuge/ Flickr

Researchers at Spain’s Polytechnic University of Catalonia (UPC)-BarcelonaTech developed a "smart ear" to help prevent fatal collisions involving elephants and trains in India, where trains on the Siliguri-Jalapaiguri railway line have struck and killed more than 200 elephants over the last decade.

The researchers placed recorders and cameras on train tracks in West Bengal, then analyzed the recorded sounds using machine learning techniques to differentiate elephant sounds from others. As a result, the “smart ear” was able to identify elephant sounds from distances of 1 kilometer, and images of elephants from 250 meters, during daylight hour.

When an elephant is detected, the system can send real-time alerts to train drivers’ phones.

Said UPC's Michel André, "We should listen to wildlife to detect their presence and avoid confrontation to achieve a better coexistence between man and nature. Today's bioacoustics can meet that challenge."

From ZDNet
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