February 21, 2024

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Drones to doctor endangered species of humpback whales

One of the first things that a doctor does when assessing the patient’s health is to measure the vital signs of the patient.

But a problem occurs when the patient is a huge, endangered paikea humpback whale. How can their vital signs be measured?

A new research from New Zealand’s University of Canterbury (UC) suggests that drones might be the solution.

According to a recent press release, a team of international scientists led by the University’s environmental geochemist Associate Professor Travis Horton has measured the temperature, respiration rate and heart rate of free-swimming great whale using a ‘drone doctor’.

This feat is a world first as measuring whale health remains to be a long-standing challenge for cetacean scientists and conservationists.

However, advances in technology such as drone technology, infrared imaging and data-processing have created unique opportunities to help whales survive.

Background of the initiative

Every winter, humpback whales return to their tropical breeding grounds throughout Oceania to give birth as well as raise their newborn calves.

The adults range in length from 12m to 16m and weigh around 25-30 metric tons.

For the endangered paikea humpback whales of Polynesia measuring and monitoring whale health is of paramount importance.

Their population was decimated by whaling through the second-half of the 20th century and they remain to be the only endangered migratory humpbacks on the planet today.

The breakthrough happened when the Associate Professor’s team of scientists deployed an infrared camera on a quad-copter drone in Rarotonga, Cook Islands, during the 2018 humpback whale calving season.

Instead of engaging with the whales by boat, the scientists stayed onshore and took pictures of the whales from above.

Utilising drone technology

Using non-invasive drones allowed the team to record high-resolution infrared videos of a mother whale resting at the ocean’s surface over a period of three hours.

The resulting infrared data enabled measurement of body temperature, breathing rate, and heart rate based on changes in skin temperature at the blowholes and major arteries present in the dorsal fin.

The key outcome from this multi-disciplinary research is the creation of a non-invasive method for measuring marine mammal vital signs and health.

The research has helped South Pacific nations better understand endangered paikea humpback whales.

In addition, the research also establishes a novel technological platform for measuring the biomedical condition of cetaceans inhabiting highly utilised marine environments, animals tangled in fishing lines, and live-stranded whales.

OpenGov Asia recently reported on Drones to help New Zealand’s economy take off. Drones will deliver economic benefits by doing tasks that are time intensive, expensive and risky.

The Government’s vision for how drones can be better integrated into the current transport system in order to develop a thriving, innovative and safe sector is set out in a paper they have just released.

Called, “Taking Flight: an aviation system for the automated age”, the document aims to provide the sector with a clear understanding of the Government’s role, and its strategic direction and priority areas, to achieve the safe integration of drones into the aviation system and broader transport system.

PARTNER

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.

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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.

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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 www.planview.com.

SUPPORTING ORGANISATION

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.

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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. 

PARTNER

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.

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