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Anika Puri: This Teen Created A Drone To Help Spot Elephant Poachers

At just 17-years-old, Anika Puri has created ElSa, a low-cost, AI-driven software that has the ability to analyze different movement patterns between elephants and poachers with up to 90% accuracy. Puri estimates that her elephant drone is up to four times more accurate when compared to current detection methods that are used.

Image of Anika Puri with her ElSa. Image Credits: Society for Science

Puri's journey began two years ago, when a short visit to India opened her eyes to the on-going problem of the illegal wildlife trade. Taking matters into her own hands, she decided to embark on her very own journey of creating a drone which would to solve the problem. Now, just two years later, Puri's work has been highly commended, with the young teen from New York even winning a $10,000 Peggy Scripps Award for Science Communication. She also won an award in the earth and environmental sciences category.

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To create the drone, Puri used a $250 FLIR ONE Pro thermal camera and plugged it into an off-the-shelf iPhone 6. This low-cost model eliminates the need for expensive, high-resolution cameras, many of which are currently used and can cost thousands of dollars.

The low-cost prototype works by using AI to analyze the different movement patterns of poachers and elephants. When the drone is flown over an area, ElSa (short for elephant savior) will then use infrared to identify what is human and what is elephant using Puri's AI software.

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