Heat-sensing drones spot koalas through the leaves

Researchers used drones and infrared imaging to spot koalas. ©QUT

Some species can be notoriously difficult to spot, especially if they occupy forests with dense canopies. To detect koala populations through the cover of eucalyptus trees, researchers with the Queensland University of Technology developed a novel approach: drones using infrared imaging. In a study published in Scientific Reports, the Australian researchers detail their technique and how it could be used to detect other species, including imperiled species and invasive species. Researchers carried out aerial sweeps during colder months to help the koalas’ heat signature stand out from the background. An algorithm distinguished koalas from other wildlife. Researchers say the method proved more accurate than human spotters.

For more about their work, watch the video below, or read the story here.