Drones are proving to be an important tool for environmentalists. Now a city in the UK is using Ellipsis Earth’s sophisticated technology to tackle the problem of litter with drones.
Cities Today reports that a pilot program in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) will use drone technology to combat rubbish.
The local city government is working with the nonprofit Umwelt-Hubbub and the startup Ellipsis Earth to use drone data and AI-based analysis to make decisions about where to place trash cans, how to establish street cleaning plans and to educate communities about trash.
The partners have called the pilot “the most scientifically robust litter survey ever conducted in the UK”.
Drone images are processed by Ellipsis Earth software to automatically and quickly identify thrown objects that have been thrown away and quantify them by type and brand to create litter heatmaps. This data, along with expert analysis and recommendations, is shared with the BCP Council, Hubbub and McDonald’s to help them better understand and prevent waste.
Ellipsis Earth began collecting data on beaches, parks, shopping streets and green spaces using light COTS drones last month. As the COVI restrictions wear off, the surveys will be repeated. “These data will inform a number of litter interventions over the summer, and another survey will take place in July to assess whether they have been effective,” the announcement said.
The Ellipsis Earth platform is an elegant solution to an inelegant problem. The software analyzes aerial photographs, identifies plastics and identifies the type of waste: differentiating between plastic bottles, fishing nets, bottle caps and toothbrushes to determine cleaning strategies.
“With our custom machine learning, Ellipsis software can identify plastics with 93% accuracy and 95% confidence. Our data are therefore comparable worldwide and scientifically robust, work in submerged water, with defective or degraded plastic and in all areas, ”says Ellipsis Earth.
The project has shown results: in Sorrento, Italy, authorities said they could use the data to develop strategies that reduced garbage “by 45 percent and cigarette butt litter by 69 percent,” it said in the report.
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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