Artificial Intelligence: AI To Prevent Endangered Eagle Species From Flying Into German Wind Turbines

A massive expansion of onshore wind farms is underway as Germany confronts the loss of Russian gas, coal plants and nuclear power. But the rotor blades of wind turbines are lethal for the rare “Lesser Spotted Eagles.”

Only about 130 breeding pairs of the lesser spotted eagle are known to be surviving. This species of eagle is known to ride thermal currents that prevail over past German flatlands that will soon see vast wind farms in the country’s rush to replace increasingly doubtful supplies of Russian gas, coal-based power and nuclear energy.

Unfortunately, that spells danger for lesser spotted eagles which collide with the rotor blades of wind turbines as they hunt, eyes down, to spot mice, lizard or other prey on the ground below. However, there is hope from AI-driven “anti-collision systems” that can minimise the risk of such tragic accidents to the eagle. (The Guardian)

Software engineers at Colorado-based US company IdentiFlight are training an AI algorithm with hundreds of thousands of images of the lesser spotted eagle or clanga pomarina, in flight. Once trained this AI can be linked to a camera system installed on top of a 10-meter tower and spot these rare eagles from up to a distance of 750 meters.

Once it detects the animal, the AI electronically alerts the wind turbine, which will typically take 20-40 seconds to reduce the speed of its rotors to a “trundle mode” of just two rotations per minute. This gives the eagle sufficient time to pick its way safely through the slowly moving blades.

According to IdentiFlight, the neural network has a success rates of over 90% of identification of red kites, which it previously used for training in German territory. The firm spent three years testing its anti-collision systems at six sites in the country.

The AI system is expected to be certified to detect sea eagles in the near future, with clearance for the lesser spotted eagles expected in 2023.

Related Story: IdentiFlight’s AI-Powered Bird Detection Systems Save Eagles From Wind Turbines

Image credit of Lesser Spotted Eagle (Clanga pomarina): Flickr

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