Scientists are radio-tracking Australian wildlife using drones

ANU’s wildlife tracking drone.

Australian scientists have developed a world-first drone to find and track radio-tagged wildlife.

Dr Debbie Saunders from the ANU says the drones detect tiny radio transmitters weighing as little as one gram.

The system was tested by tracking bettongs, sometimes known as rat kangaroos, at the Mulligan’s Flat woodland sanctuary in Canberra.

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“The small aerial robot will allow researchers to more rapidly and accurately find tagged wildlife, gain insights into movements of some of the world’s smallest and least known species, and access areas that are otherwise inaccessible,” says Dr Saunders said.

Oliver Cliff at the University of Sydney says the technology has getting international interest.

“Lots of people are trying to do this,” he says. “It is not an easy process, but we believe we’ve come up with a solution.”

The robot consists of an off-the-shelf drone or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). The custom-built miniature receiver and antenna provide real-time information on radio-tracked wildlife, and mapped live on a laptop.

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