A test run of the unmanned aerial vehicle 'ECHO', which is very close to the emperor penguin in Antarctica and investigates its ecology and distribution, will be carried out.

Emperor penguins live in groups in Antarctica, but their populations have declined sharply in recent years and are threatened with extinction. A test run of the unmanned spacecraft ' ECHO ', which is expected to play an active role in observing the ecology of this emperor penguin, was carried out.

Penguins – Marine Animal Remote Sensing Lab


A robot lives in this Antarctic penguin colony. It's trying to save them --CNN

ECHO is an unmanned spacecraft developed as part of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) 's 2017 emperor penguin monitoring project 'Monitor the health of the Antarctic marine ecosystems using the emperor penguin as a sentinel (MARE)'. is.

Since there are no organisms that prey on emperor penguins in Antarctica, it is possible to analyze the 'effects of climate change on ecosystems' by observing the ecology and distribution of emperor penguins. However, when humans approach and observe penguins, they stress the penguins. Therefore, in the early stages of MARE, observations were carried out by the observation tower 'Single Penguin Observation and Tracking observatory (SPOT)' equipped with 16 high-definition cameras. If the test run ECHO is actually put into operation, it is expected that more detailed data can be collected from 20,000 emperor penguins than when SPOT alone is used.

Since 2017, WHOI's research team has attached small electronic tags to 300 five-month-old penguins annually. ECHO is equipped with an RFID antenna that can identify electronic tags, and can identify electronic tags that exist within a radius of 86 cm. It is also possible to record the distribution of individuals using the GPS system. In addition, the data collected by ECHO will be sent to SPOT by wireless communication, and further detailed analysis will be carried out.

The research team is working on improving the algorithm to get ECHO to work the way it wants on the Antarctic ice sheet. They also plan to enclose the ECHO in blocks of ice and let it blend into the terrain to gain a detailed understanding of the reproductive behavior of emperor penguins.

in Science,   Creature, Posted by log1o_hf