Researchers are measuring ocean health with drones, A.I., and whale snot

How do you determine the health of the oceans and the Arctic? With some drones, artificial intelligence, and a bit of whale snot. On World Animal Day, Wednesday, October 4, Intel shared how its technology is being used as part of two successful wildlife research projects involving camera drones and artificial intelligence. The company recently partnered with a wildlife photographer, a conservationist, and two non-profit organizations to study the health of polar bears and whales, both animals that offer clues to the health of their ecosystems and the impact of climate change.

In the first study, wildlife photographer Ole Jorgen Liodden used Intel’s Falcon 8 drone system and a thermal camera to study the habits of a group of polar bears. With the drone’s aerial views, Liodden was able to monitor behavior like feeding, breeding, and migration. The data, Intel says, will help scientists understand how the animals are impacted by climate change, which offers a glimpse of the health of the arctic ecosystem as a whole.

Traditionally, researchers would have studied the bears’ movements using helicopters, a method that’s both expensive and invasive to the bears, or boats, a scenario that’s dangerous for researchers because of the harsh conditions.  Using the drone, the polar bears did not appear to be affected by its noise or appearance, even when the UAV was flown between 50 and 100 meters away.

“Polar bears are a symbol of the Arctic. They are strong, intelligent animals,” Liodden said. “If they become extinct, there will be challenges with our entire ecosystem. Drone technology can hopefully help us get ahead of these challenges to better understand our world and preserve the earth’s environment.”

The second research project is offering a better understanding of the health of the oceans by looking at, yes, whale snot. Accurately dubbed Project SnotBot, Intel partnered with Parley for the Oceans and Ocean Alliance to use artificial intelligence to monitor a whale’s health in real time. SnotBots first started studying the whales earlier this year.

After collecting the spout water from several different breeds of whales, including blue whales, right whales, gray whales, humpback whales and orcas, Intel’s AI algorithms analyze the sample for several different elements. The whale snot contains a wealth of different information, including stress and pregnancy hormones, viruses, bacteria, toxins, and DNA. The machine learning technology, Intel says, allows researchers to access the data in real time in order to make more timely decisions.

Photography

MIT science photographer isn’t an artist, but her work could fill galleries

Felice Frankel is an award-winning photographer, but she doesn't consider herself an artist. As a science photographer, she has been helping researchers better communicate their ideas for nearly three decades with eye-catching imagery.
Computing

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…