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January 15, 2014
Unmanned Aircraft Observations May Save Elephants

Trains killed 22 elephants in India in 2013, prompting government agencies to consider UAS technology to help prevent such tragedies.

After 17 elephants were killed by a speeding train in West Bengal, India, the nation’s railway and environment ministries are considering deploying unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) to help prevent such tragedies.

Collaborating with them in the effort are the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), with IIT-Kanpur suggesting the use of UASs to track elephant movements near rail tracks and warn train drivers in the vicinity to slow down.

According to railways statistics, 65 elephants have been hit and killed by trains since 2010—mainly in the Northeast Frontier Railway region, which covers parts of Bihar, Assam and West Bengal. There were 22 deaths in 2013—the highest in the last three years.

A team of officials from the railways and environment ministries will visit IIT-Kanpur this week to see a demonstration of how UASs can help keep trains at a safe distance and speed from roaming elephant herds.

Image courtesy of The Indian EXPRESS.

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