CSE498, Collaborative Design, Spring 2020
Computer Science and Engineering
Michigan State University

Evolutio is a group of technology professionals convinced that business problems have significantly simpler solutions than the market is led to believe. These solutions span across the globe, including the non-profit Elephants, Rhinos, and People (ERP), a group founded to preserve and protect Southern Africa’s wild elephants and rhinos.

As part of their initiative to preserve and protect wildlife, ERP uses drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to monitor elephants at the Rietvlei Reserve in South Africa.

Wildlife is threatened every day by not only poachers, but also by the destruction of food sources, the disruption of habitat by tourists and natural threats such as floods, wildfires, and drought. In a 400,000-acre park, it is impossible to detect and monitor threats without an automated system.

Our Conservation Threat Detection system serves two primary functions: auto-identify threats in drone footage and inform rangers of these identified threats in real time.

ERP pilots fly drones equipped with cameras throughout the reserve and our system automatically detects any threats, including cars, humans, fires, and floods, from the camera feed in real time.

If a threat is detected, nearby rangers are informed of the threat and its location through a graphical user interface (shown on the right), together with silent notifications conveyed through vibration motors mounted in our custom-designed ranger vest.

Our system allows ERP to monitor large areas of land in real time without the need for ERP personnel to manually analyze hundreds of hours of drone video footage. This allows ERP to more quickly respond to imminent threats.

Our threat detection is done using neural networks built with TensorFlow. All components of the system communicate through Ethernet protocol and the main system runs on a Jetson Nano.