Jan 2021 | No Comment

$400,000 grant for precision irrigation improvements

Viridix, an Israeli precision irrigation company, has received a $400,000 grant from the Israel Innovation Authority to enhance the remote sensing and AI capabilities of its RooTense® solution. This solution can increase crop yields by 20% while reducing water and fertilizer usage up to 50%. The Authority›s grant funds will also be used to scale production and distribution. Viridix began with a very innovative sensor technology used to measure soil moisture. Through pairing with the latest software to understand the type of plant, age of the plant and soil type it can better respond to crop needs and apply the optimal amount of water. The latest solutions of Viridix are targeted at 70% of the world’s freshwater that is used to irrigate agriculture.

African elephants surveyed using AI

A new approach for surveying African elephants using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence (AI) could help in solving some of the present challenges in the conservation of the species. The survey method was developed by an international team of researchers led by University of Oxford. The team detailed their work in a paper titled ‘Using very high-resolution satellite imagery and deep learning to detect and count African elephants in heterogeneous landscapes’, published in the academic journal Remote Sensing in Ecology and Conservation.

A satellite orbiting in space is capable of capturing more than 5,000 square kilometre of imagery in a single run, within minutes. It not only eliminates the risk of double counting, but also makes it possible to conduct repeat surveys at short intervals, an Oxford release explained. The captured imagery is processed through a deep learning model to detect elephants. The team used a customised dataset of over 1000 elephants in South Africa, to train the model. “Machines are less prone to error, false negatives and false positives in deep learning algorithms, and are consistent and can be rectified by systematically improving models,” the release said. According to the team, elephants can be detected in satellite imagery with accuracy as high as human detection capabilities. In addition, the model was able to spot elephants in places away from the training data location, and also identify calves even though it was only trained on adults.

ISRO announces free online course on RS

The Indian Space Research Organization announces free online course named “Remote sensing, GIS and GNSS Technology and their Applications”. The online course is AICTE-approved, and will be conducted through the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS) on the SWAYAM platform. The course can be beneficial especially for undergraduate students willing to receive credit points upon completion. The course will begin on January 20 till May 5. The module of the course is spread across three sections which will be conducted over 15 weeks and consist of 77.5 hours of learning. The modules consist basics of remote sensing, global navigation satellite system and geographic information system and applications of geospatial technology.

The online course will be conducted by Dr. Poonam S Tiwari. Scientist and Teaching Faculty, IIRS, ISRO, Dehradun.

World’s first wooden satellite

Researchers from Kyoto University are developing a satellite made from wood that would burn up completely at the end of its life to reduce the amount of humanmade waste floating in space. Set to launch in 2023, the LignoSat satellite will have a shell made of timber, allowing it to burn up completely as it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere. The project is a collaboration with Japanese logging company Sumitomo Forestry and aims to tackle the growing amount of space hardware that is floating in our planet›s orbit despite no longer being functional.

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