Close this search box.

We are creating some awesome events for you. Kindly bear with us.

HKU codevelops automated laser-scanning ‘hunter drone’

Image Credits: HKU, Press Release

The world of science fiction is heavily populated with mentions of machine-intelligent hunter drones and, now, reality can emulate this.

These drones have become science fact with the new HKU-codeveloped autonomous ‘hunter drone’ designed to seek out targets at night using a scanning laser.

The technique used by the drone, called Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence (LSF), was co-developed at HKU and has been highly successful in palaeontology, making fossil bones glow and revealing otherwise invisible details like skin and cartilage.

The application of LSF to an aerial system is possible because of the laser’s ability to project over great distances with little loss in power.

The HKU Research Assistant Professor (Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory, Division of Earth & Planetary Science and Department of Earth Sciences) and his colleague from the Foundation for Scientific Advancement made this a reality by developing a fully autonomous LSF drone system.

“Nicknamed ‘Laser Raptor’, this system is designed to more efficiently seek out fossils exposed on the surface in the field”.

Loaded with pre-programmed flight paths during the day, this prototype was launched at night in the Badlands of Arizona and Wyoming, USA to search for fossils.

Laser Raptor flies rapidly to search locations using its onboard navigation and then descends and maintains an altitude of 4 metres above ground so it can ‘mow the lawn’ in search of glowing targets as small as a thumbnail.

After each “mission” is complete, a video of the laser scan is processed to find hot spots that are investigated the next day, leading to the recovery of new fossil specimens.

Fluorescence is extremely sensitive to differences in mineral composition. Although Laser Raptor was designed to locate fossils, it is ready to seek out a whole range of fluorescent targets including minerals; for example, to study rare and unusual geology or in search of mining materials like gemstones, certain organisms like scorpions, shellfish and cyanobacteria, and even archaeological artefacts and structures.

Asked about plans, the expert of the Foundation for Scientific Advancement stated that as members of HKU’s Laboratory of Space Research, the team is currently working to develop LSF applications for the study of geologic landscapes beyond Earth.

Behind the HKU co-developed LSF tech

Until recently, it had been hard to get an accurate idea of the shape of a dinosaur from its fossilised remains, as only their bones are usually preserved, a press release from March 2017 notes.

Dr Michael Pittman from the Department of Earth Sciences at HKU along with collaborators reconstructed the first highly detailed body outline of a feathered dinosaur based on high-definition images of its preserved soft tissues using a new technique.

It was noted that Laser-Stimulated Fluorescence (LSF) uses high-power lasers that make unseen soft tissues preserved alongside the bones, literally “glow in the dark” by fluorescence.

The technique scans the fossils with a violet laser in a dark room. The laser “excites” the few skin atoms left in the matrix making them glow, to reveal what the shape of the dinosaur actually looked like.

The reconstructed dinosaur enabled via LSF tech. Soure: HKU, Press Release

In 2017, the team had already examined over 200 specimens of the feathered bird-like dinosaur Anchiornis to find the dozen with special preservation. The quantitative reconstruction shows the contours of the wings, legs and even perfectly preserved foot scales, providing new details that illuminate the origin of birds.


Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.


CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Well-known for our strengths in system integration and consultation, CTC Global proves to be the preferred IT outsourcing destination for organizations all over Singapore today.


Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit


SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.


HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 


IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.