New AI might stop eagles from getting stuck in German wind turbines

New AI might stop eagles from getting stuck in German wind turbines

German artificial intelligence is being developed to stop endangered eagles falling victim to irony by being crushed between eco-friendly wind turbine blades.

Eagles at high risk of German wind farm collisions

The endangered and adequately named “lesser spotted eagle” are native to the delta of the Oder River near Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Unfortunately for Germany’s plans to significantly expand onshore wind power over the coming years, lesser spotted eagles like to fly across the flatlands reserved for future developments, meaning that German AI scientists have been set the task of developing cameras intelligent enough to spot the eagles in time to avoid their peril.

Lesser spotted eagles hunt for frogs, mice and lizards while they are flying and, living in the natural environment, are not used to meeting vertical obstacles. Since 2002 researchers in Germany have counted eight dead lesser spotted eagles found near to wind farms. Though this is a small number, it is significant considering that the species is endangered in Germany.

How would the AI eagle spotting camera work?

The technology to reduce lesser spotted eagle casualties is being developed by an international company based in Colorado, IdentiFlight, which creates bird detection systems. The company uses camera systems attached to a 10-metre tower to collect images of eagles in an IndentiFlight algorithm.

Once the developmental stage is complete, the cameras should be able to identify eagles up to 750 metres away. After 20 to 30 seconds this will set the wind turbine into a slow “trundle mode”, allowing the bird to pass more safely through or past the propellers. After three years of testing the technology at six locations across Germany, the US company says their cameras have a 90 percent accuracy rate for identifying and classifying red kites, the species that the technology was first trained to detect.

The technology could prove vital in striking a balance between conservationist environmentalists and environmentalists who believe expanding green energy must take precedent. The anti-collision systems could be seen as a necessary and urgent development after a contentious federal nature conservation act reform, brought in by the traffic light coalition, removed the limitations around developing wind farms near nesting sites. 

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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