seeks to share knowledge of building and using low-cost unmanned aerial vehicles for conservation-related applications with conservation workers and researchers worldwide
Q. I love the story behind ConservationDrones.org, how do you define success for the organization?
We measure success by looking at the number of people that we help to get started, train, provide other drone advice to, website traffic, and collaborative projects.
Q. Why drones? How did you get involved with them in the first place?
We wanted to have a more efficient method to monitor orang-utan distribution and density. They make nests and we thought that we might be able to use cameras on drones to take images of orang-utan nests. That worked so we achieved our initial goal. We then noticed that drones might be useful for a whole range of conservation issues: land-cover change, poaching, etc.
Q. Where are drones being used most effectively in the world for these efforts?
In Sumatra there are several projects that run very well. Also a project for anti-poaching in Nepal runs well. There are also other people using drones successfully in Africa for anti-poaching efforts.
Q. What are the biggest challenges you encounter in accomplishing your mission?
Time. We all have day jobs and the conservationdrone work is something that is largely done on the side. It would be great to purely focus on this but we do not have funding to sustain that.
Q. What changes to drone regulations or technology would most help the use of drones for conservation?
I think that clear regulations are a first step. Then they have to be progressive so that they allow the safe use of drones under certain circumstances. I think that for instance the regulations in the UK are an example of having a clear law and guidance on how to use drones in a safe way. The regulations are often being updated to incorporate changes as things are being developed.
In terms of technology I would say better battery life and sense and avoid are key aspects for the future as is a system in which drones can become part of aviation as it is at the moment. So one system that can monitor manned and unmanned aircrafts.
Q. If people wanted to get involved in your efforts, how should they do so?
There are several things people can do. They can support us financially so that we can continue our efforts. They can also try to collaborate with us on projects.