Student Project: FawnRescue

A Technology-Driven Solution for Wildlife Conservation

Student project in the advanced FPV-Course WISE 23/24 by Lars Kaesberg & Luca Francis

Intro

The FawnRescue project harnesses the power of cutting-edge technology to make a real-world difference for wildlife. Our system utilizes thermal imaging to detect fawns hidden in fields, even during daylight hours. Our custom drone with autonomous flight capabilities surveys areas quickly and efficiently. A dedicated mobile app empowers rescuers with mission planning tools and real-time detection updates.

We developed this project during the winter semester of 2023/24 as part of both a research project module (12 C) and the FPV Advanced Course (6 C)

About

The FawnRescue project started with the realization that we could use technology to help address a real-world conservation problem – in this case the issue of fawns being injured during mowing season. We knew thermal imaging and drone flight could help detect fawns even when they’re hidden, as that’s how rescuers are working currently. The cost of entry for a thermal imaging drone and the time to learn how to correctly control and maneuver such an aircraft is quite prohibitive for organizations that most of the time are run by volunteers.
So we headed out to develop a system that was cheaper and smarter than the existing solutions. Building an ecosystem that combined a thermal camera with a custom build autonomous drone was an exciting first step. Then, we focused on developing a deep learning model to analyze the images and pinpoint fawn locations automatically. Creating the mobile app was key too – it had to be intuitive enough for anyone to use during a time-sensitive rescue mission. The whole development process had its challenges, but we’re proud of the system we built and its potential to make a difference.

Take a look at our project website to learn more about the project from a users perspective, or checkout our GitHub repository for insight into our codebase.