You may recall that a couple of years ago Predator Free 2050 Ltd helped us with funding to get the first version of our trap to market. That version is a live capture device that is still on the market and has already shown some really good results. But we knew even back then that there were a number of key improvements we would need to make the trap deliver its true potential. We're glad to share that PF2050 Ltd agree with us and we have recently signed an agreement for them to fund a substantial portion of the work on three key features; automated reset, intelligent trigger, and automated kill.
We want our trap to be able to catch multiple predators each night. Once the trap has triggered, after a short wait period, a linear actuator resets the trap mechanism, lowering the blinds again to allow the next predator to enter. The next version of this design utilises a new light-weight spring mechanism that makes the trap easier to carry and install. The first version of the auto-resetting trap is already on the market with our partners at 2040.co.nz.
This adds a key feature in terms of reducing the risk of by-catch. We want our trap to capture predators while allowing native species to walk (or fly) through the trap unharmed. We started the work on our intelligent trigger towards the end of 2021 and the first version of that is now working and being field tested. We're believers in getting first versions to market as soon as possible and then working on improvements.
The first version takes advantage of a key development in our thermal camera technology. Our thermal camera is now capable of carrying out on-board classification of species and generating a near real-time notification (using the camera’s in-built Bluetooth capability). The notification from the camera indicating that a predator has entered the area can be used to enable the trap. If no such notification is received, the trap would allow all non-target animals to walk through the trap unharmed.
We already have enhanced versions of the intelligent trigger in development as we type. The next version will utilise our AI technology and a dedicated infrared camera inside the trap so a key dependency there is getting enough footage of various species (target and, critically, non-target) to be able to train our AI. An intermediate version will use human verification by sending out a notification and requesting a positive ID from a user before allowing the animal into the kill cage. Automated doors and sensors keep non-target animals safe.
This is a key feature as it will remove the need for daily checking of the trap by a human (which is required with the first version given it is a live capture device). Our auto-kill mechanism is being refined in the workshop before it goes out for testing. We're also working on another part of the mechanism that can clear a predator from the trap to allow multiple kills.
As you can see, despite delays in contracts arriving, we don't like to wait here at The Cacophony Project. Thanks to some generous co-funders, we were able to keep working on these features in the meantime.
All in all, pretty exciting times here. Our thanks go to the great team at Predator Free 2050 Ltd for their continued support.
As always, we welcome your feedback so don't hesitate to get in touch - leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.