AI software is being used to combat the rise in Asian hornet sightings across the UK, a number that has doubled in the last year.
Pollenize, a Plymouth-based beekeeping and conservation company, has developed an automated system that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify and report Asian hornets to the authorities.
Stations will be placed across the UK at high-risk sites, including 21 ports, and will operate as an early-warning system, automatically identifying sightings of the non-native species, enabling prompt action to be taken to prevent potential spreading.
The monitoring stations will deploy a mist, attracting hornets to the device, where there is a camera that is linked to a micro-computer with a database of 1,500 Asian hornet images; the AI will then identify the species of hornet.
Stations will have a low-power, long-range wireless network that enables sites to report positive sightings to a central database, in a bid to reduce spread.
Dave Goulson, a professor of biology at the University of Sussex, told the Guardian, “the arrival of Asian hornets would provide a significant new threat to insect populations,” posing a substantial threat to the UK’s biodiversity.
The public and those who spend a majority of their time outdoors for hobbies or work are encouraged to report any suspected sightings, while remaining safe.
Pollenize is also developing a system to track the Asian hornets, to prevent the pests from establishing further in the UK.