Automated livestock monitoring using drones and Artificial Intelligence

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One of the beneficial applications where AI has a great potential to augment human life is in farming and livestock monitoring. Automatically keeping track on livestock reduces operational costs and improves the productivity of the farm.

On stage at the Data Innovation Summit, Mikhail Popov, Senior Scientist at RISE (Research Institutes of Sweden) will share insights into a project they’ve been working on involving drone and AI-assisted livestock monitoring as a response to farmer’s plight regarding wandering or missing livestock. Additionally, he will ll also dive deeper in what other applications for the combined AI+drone technology have been discussed with farmers, hunters, public authorities. And what is yet to be done to make it a reliable technology and a viable business case.

Hyperight: Hi Mikhail, we are glad to have you as one of the speakers at Data Innovation Summit 2020. To begin with, please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at RISE – Research Institutes of Sweden.

Mikhail Popov, Senior Scientist at RISE

Mikhail Popov: My background is in physics and mathematics with a PhD from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm. I am a technology practitioner. At RISE, I help to solve real-life problems at the request from customers by combining new technologies and business models. The problems come from various sectors, in particular from the real estate, healthcare and agriculture.  I often help to solve problems which have both business and technology components. Having the business aspect from the start affects the systems design and final solution. So it did for the livestock monitoring project and which I will tell more about at the conference.

Hyperight: You are going to talk about an exciting project you are working on which is regarding Drone and AI-assisted livestock monitoring. This is a great example of how AI advances one of the oldest and life-sustaining human activities – farming. Where else can this combination of AI and drones be used to improve and optimise humans’ existence?

Mikhail Popov: During the project, we discussed it extensively with farmers, hunters, drone operators and public authorities. The drone + AI combination is indispensable in all tasks where you need to keep an intelligent eye over larger geographical areas. The objects of interest can be fauna and flora or something else.

The applications are many. In agriculture, it includes keeping an eye on farm animals, their position and wellbeing, tracking wild boars who can quickly cause damage to crops and early warning for predators. A swarm of AI-equipped drones can cover large areas in a short time which is crucial for search and rescue operations. Using infrared cameras will make the system work at night and improve the overall performance of the solution.

livestock monitoring

Hyperight: According to a recent Mckinsey survey, although there’s rapid adoption of AI across global businesses, many organizations still lack the foundational practices to create value from AI at scale. Why do you think these foundational barriers still exist and how can they be resolved?

Mikhail Popov: It may not always be obvious how AI can bring benefits to existing business and operational models.

Further, for decision making, “AI” as a black box it is today may associate with something unknown and difficult to trust. We do have that impression from the movies that AI is not something we can trust, don’t we? Perhaps, AI needs to be demystified first and it means that we need to demystify the backbox so we can entrust it with decision making.

There are practical challenges as well. Availability of good quality data, in particular, labelled data for training the model can be one of them. Getting the data can be time-consuming and costly.  Further, regulation, or absence of it, for applying the AI can be another factor. Eventually, we might simply not have enough AI specialists today to check out all the good ideas.

livestock monitoring

Hyperight: Could you share with us what other AI projects have you been involved at RISE, considering you have a long-standing 18+ years of experience at the Insitute?

Mikhail Popov: RISE has many ongoing projects involving the AI, from improving the AI itself to its applications. AI is a tool which we strive to maintain the state-of-art knowledge about and apply everywhere where it may help our partners, for my part it has been telecom, healthcare, and agriculture. We have excellent colleagues at RISE to discuss the AI itself and its application to most of the technologies on this planet and this makes the job easier.

Hyperight:  We’ve seen what AI can do and how it can improve our lives thus far. But what are your predictions for 2030 for artificial intelligence?

Mikhail Popov: Computers do not get tired. AI-assisted systems will help us to see further and better, improve monitoring tasks, make better predictions and reduce human errors. By 2030, we shall see the whole new levels of automatization and personalization in many aspects of our lives. Made by the AI. It will outperform us in possibly all board and computer games. AI will be extensively used to create things like art, music, clothes, and research funding applications. It will also help to create better services, products and business value chains.


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