Virtual Meetup Discussion: Drones

Hi wildlabbers!

We're looking forward to seeing you all tomorrow in the drones meetup. It's on Wednesday, November 20th from 3:00pm-4:30pm GMT / 10:00am-11:30am EST. We'll be joined by Craig Elder, Technical Community Manager at; Dr. Claire Burke, Astro-Ecologist at Liverpool John Moores University; and Gabriel Levin, GIS Analyst at Conservation International. We've had 130 + registrations from 37 countries at last count - to join, you can register here.

Having a look through the registrations so far, we're seeing a few themes of discussion emerging.

Best Practice and General Questions 

  • How can drones be deployed in wildlife conservation in developing countries in an appropriate, cost effective way? (includes questions about flight plans and how to use drones to take photos (USA, Netherlands, Aus, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Myanmar)
  • Managing impacts:
    • How the risk of drone's disruption can be handled to prevent impacts on wildlife behaviour? (Argentina)
    • Potential for disrupting wildlife. (USA)
  • What standardised methodologies for drones are available to monitor wildlife? (Romania)
  • Legal considerations
    • Wilderness laws, airspace regs (USA)
    • " FAA requirements in US ? "Part 107" ? (USA)

Specific applications 

  • How applicable infrared cameras are on drones in marine mammal science? (Ireland)
  • How have drones been successful towards combating wildlife poaching (Netherlands)
  • Have there been recent developments in plant disease detection using drones and multi-spectral cameras? (UK)
  • I’m interested in the application of UAVs to study movement and collective behaviour. How GPS and UAVS can be integrated to video track migrating animals? (UK)
  • What is the potential for using thermal imaging drones to survey large mammals in open habitat? (UK)
  • Use of drones to deploy other sensors in difficult terrain (USA)
  • Will drone help in assessing habitats of amphibian and do distrbution modelling? (Nepal)

Hardware recommendations + Open Source Approaches

  • How are folks getting around some of the proprietary “boxes” and more into open source, etc. tools & frameworks? – (USA)
  • What's the best ground resolution achievable with an off-the-shelf drone flying at >30m altitude (USA)
  • I process drone images into aerial surveys of reserves, and am interested in developing to use thermal and hyperspectral sensors. Which drone / sensor combo should I buy for multispectral mapping? (UK)
  • With enhancements, how far from the operator can one fly? (USA)
  • What are the options available for drones that can be programmed to do line transects? (Malaysia)

Autonomous Systems

  • How far can automation go, and is it more a flight regulation than a technical challenge to completely automate everything? (Aus)
  • I develop autonomous drones. How soon and effectively can conservation efforts benefit from autonomous drones? (Germany)

Image Processing and Analysis

  • Advances and recommendations for image processing software - post flight stuff (free software, resources, guidance) (Peru, Tanzania, India)
  • What software or workflows do you recommend for classifying imagery acquired from drones? (USA)
  • Data analysis & management far outweighs the time & effort of collecting data. What's on the horizon for machine indent/learning (Australia)
  • If available, what API connected resources are available for real-time AI image identification of wild birds and animals? (USA)


  • Have we reached a plateau of productivity with drones yet? Will they become part of the 'normal' practitioner's toolkit? (UK)
  • Which is the current state of the use of drones for conservation? (Bolivia)
  • What are the main challenges in using drones for nature conservation? (Denmark)
  • What can drones offer, apart from photography and video? (Peru)
  • What will future drones look like? (UK)

How do I get involved?

  • Can you define a starter kit for a developer who is looking to start exploring in the world pf drones (UK)
  • Would like to use my tech expertise for good, how do I get involved? (USA)
  • We incubate tech like this, and I'd like to learn more about what tech is out there and who is behind it. I’m joining to find out if any of the projects or participants could use our help. (UK)