Researchers in Switzerland are using drones to monitor the health of the rainforest

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solo29 July 2023Last Update : 2 months ago
Researchers in Switzerland are using drones to monitor the health of the rainforest

The team’s project has reached the finals of the global XPRIZE Rainforest competition that encourages the development of technology to measure and monitor rainforest ecosystems.

a group of researchers from ETH Zurich race on a global scale XPRIZE Rainforest Competing with his project employing custom-built drones to monitor the health of the rainforest.

The prize money of the competition is $10 million (€9.1 million) and is designed to encourage the development of technologies to monitor, measure and evaluate complex ecosystems.

The Swiss team’s drones operated by collecting environmental DNA samples without entering the rainforest. The data collected can be used to identify hundreds of plant and animal species.

Environmental DNA refers to the genetic traces of plants and animals in a particular area that can help prove whether an animal or plant lived in that area or not.

The technology developed by the team includes a drone capable of collecting air samples as well as another device that can be rotated from the drone to collect swabs of plants in the forest canopy.

“We brought here mainly two types of drones,” explained Stefano Mintchev, assistant professor of environmental robotics at ETH Zurich.

“We have added a custom payload and with this custom payload we are able to collect air to sample airborne eDNA,” he added.

The second payload is a probe that we can lower down inside the canopy to collect surface eDNA, clearing the vegetation we encounter as the probe moves up and down in the canopy,” Minchev said.

In the XPRIZE semi-finals in Singapore, 13 teams competed to demonstrate the effectiveness of their technologies with 24 hours to collect data and 24 hours to analyze their findings and compile a report.

The researchers were tasked with identifying as many species of plants and animals as possible on a designated plot of land without actually stepping into the forest.

The Swiss team will join five other groups at the XPRIZE Rainforest Finals next year.

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