MANAUS (Brazil) — Small, artificially intelligent (AI) 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 team is now looking for more funding to add hundreds more sensors to the system, including ones that will be able to detect smoke and heat from forest fires.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has promised to end illegal deforestation in the Amazon by 2030.
His far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro had presided over an increase of more than 75 per cent in average annual Amazon deforestation compared to the previous decade.
Prof Gomes said that unlike audio sensor-based systems already used in other countries, the Manaus project is comparatively inexpensive as it does not require large antennas for data transmission.
Each sensor costs about US$200 (S$274) to US$300 to manufacture. AFP