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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

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Robotic Animal Spies

Robotic Animal Spies


Spy Orang (credit: Nature, A Spy in the Wild)


The use of non-invasive camera traps adapted video cams and movement shutter triggers to capture images, have been used to document newly discovered species and monitor wildlife behavior around the world. Visualize a video feed of baby peregrine falcons hatching then learning to fly; or night-time infrared photos of rare jaguars or snow leopards on a remote mountain trail; as well as watching wild orangutans build sleeping platforms high in the rainforest to gain an appreciation for the diversity of uses these digital devices allow. The "traps" have become a major technology revolution in wildlife conservation, monitoring, protection, and recovery in the wild.

Now, a further advancement that combines software programming, robotic engineering, and miniaturized cameras, has taken the monitoring concept to an entirely new level. Animatronics, or 'spy animals', is explored in a BBC Nature mini-series distributed by the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the US. Utilizing footage captured by the new robo animals, designed to be accepted by the real world counterparts, the bots were placed in natural, field settings to document the interactions.

The results are amazing, very entertaining, and show how very similar animal behaviors can be to our own. Your appreciation of wildlife will take on new meaning while watching their responses to the robotic spies in their midst. WHB

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