Tree-hugging AI to the rescue of Brazilian Amazon

MANAUS, Brazil: Small, artificially intelligent boxes tied to tree trunks in the Brazilian Amazon are the latest weapon in the arsenal of scientists and environmentalists battling destructive jungle invaders.

The boxes, named Curupiras after a folkloric forest creature who preys on hunters and poachers, sport sensors and software trained “to recognise the sounds of chainsaws and tractors, or anything that could cause deforestation”, project manager Thiago Almeida told AFP.

“We recorded the sound of chainsaws and tractors in the forest … then, all the collected sounds were passed on to the AI team to train (the program) so that … it would only recognise these sounds and not the characteristic sounds of the forest, such as animals, vegetation and rain,” he explained.

Once identified, details of the threat can then be relayed to a central point and agents deployed to deal with it.

“The advantage of this system is that it can detect an attack … or a threat in real-time,” said researcher Raimundo Claudio Gomes of the Amazonas State University behind the project.

Unlike satellite data, which reveal deforestation only after the fact, the Curupiras can detect “when the destruction starts”, he added.

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