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Intel uses drones and AI to study whales

Steve Rogerson
November 21, 2017



Intel has been using drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to collect biological samples from whales and analyse data in real time.
 
As part of a collaboration to save the world's oceans, Intel, Parley for the Oceans and the marine experts of Parley SnotBot recently completed an expedition in Alaska, where they successfully deployed advanced drone technology, AI and machine learning tools to collect and analyse biological samples.
 
SnotBot is a drone-enabled research device that hovers over surfacing whales and benignly collects mucus rich in biological data. The SnotBot team has led successful research missions in Patagonia, the Sea of Cortez and now Alaska, collecting biological samples from several species of whales, along with footage of the animals in their natural habitat.
 
With the most recent Alaska expedition, the full capacity and range of SnotBot as a transformative scientific tool was extended to include biological data, photogrammetry, volumetrics, photo ID and behavioural data.
 
Without leaving the boat and disturbing the whales, the research team used Intel technology to identify a whale from a past expedition, confirm pregnancy in another whale and gather real-time data on cetacean health. This expertise and technology empowers researchers to make more timely decisions in their immediate mission, allowing them to act upon real-time data that inform the longer-term health of oceans and humanity.
 
The power of Parley SnotBot and this collaborative approach to marine research is captured in the film "Below the Surface: A Drones and AI Expedition," produced by Intel in collaboration with Farm League and directed by Keith Malloy.
 
Parley is a network where people can come together to raise awareness of the beauty and fragility of the oceans and collaborate on projects that can end their destruction.