Warning drivers about wandering wildlife

Brazilian researchers are training computers to keep an eye out for animals on the road

Cell phones can already warn drivers about upcoming traffic congestion or hazards on the highway. Could warnings about wildlife crossing the road be next?

In Brazil, researchers found that computer vision models that detect wildlife in other countries don’t work well for Brazilian species, and they’re often not fast enough to detect animals as they’re crossing a road. The team set out to address those issues by training computers to detect species that Brazilian drivers are likely to come across.

“The species were selected in accordance with the metrics recommended by the Brazilian Center for Road Ecology Studies,” said Gabriel Souto Ferrante, first author of the article published Scientific Reports, who conducted the study as part of his master’s research at the University of São Paulo’s Institute of Mathematics and Computer Sciences. The center estimates some 475 million animals are killed on Brazilian roads every year.

The researchers used videos from the São Carlos Ecological Park to test the system. By partnering with toll road operators and city governments, they plan to conduct further tests in real-world scenarios.

Read the study in Scientific Reports.

Header Image: An estimated 475 million animals are killed on Brazilian roads each year. Credit: Andre Kenji de sousa