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Conservation


— Drones

March of the drones: 10 ideas that moved flying robots forward in 2015

Drones have continued to capture our imagination in remarkable ways throughout 2015. Despite the thick layers of bureaucracy that outlaw commercial use in much of the world, fresh ideas itching to put the technology to use constantly come to the fore. Let's cast our eye over some of the more promising to emerge this year; a diverse list that includes everything from drones that deliver medical supplies to drones that can build bridges all by themselves.

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— Around The Home

Room in Room saves on heating by pitching a tent over your bed

Heating bills in colder climates can be a nasty surprise and turning the thermostat down on a chilly night can be an unpleasant exercise in economy. Room in Room is a modern take on the four poster bed from tentmaker iKamper that aims to help reduce those heating bills. Based on popular South Korean indoor tents, it's designed to go over the bed and conserve a sleeper's heat, so the room temperature can be kept down.

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— Drones

Drones take the legwork out of tracking radio-tagged wildlife

Radio tags have made things easier for environmental scientists tracking animal movements, but they still involve spending a lot of time and money traipsing over land by foot in search of a signal. This is particularly pertinent for Australian National University's (ANU) Debbie Saunders, who has spent years trying to track small, evasive birds. But work is set to become easier for Saunders and her team, who have developed the first radio-tracking drone that locates radio-tagged wildlife in a fraction of the time of previous methods.

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— Drones

Sir Patrick Stewart gets behind effort to collect whale mucus using "Snotbot" drones

Gathering good biological data about whales can be difficult without bugging the big mammals with large planes, boats, tags, sampling darts or even biopsies and lethal study techniques. Instead, the Ocean Alliance wants to send custom drones to collect whale mucus – aka snot – for study and they've enlisted the help of Sir Patrick Stewart for the crowdfunding effort to finance the project.

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— Drones

Drones aid ailing chimpanzee populations

Getting eyes in the sky could mean great things for conservation efforts of all kinds. Already we are seeing drones put to use in ridding Australia's rainforests of invasive weeds, warding off would-be poachers of African wildlife and monitoring killer whales off the west coast of North America. Another beneficiary of this versatile technology could be endangered chimpanzees living in remote jungle locations. By equipping drones with cameras researchers have been able to pick out their nests from above, greatly assisting in efforts to conserve their dwindling populations.

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— 3D Printing

Synthetic rhinoceros horn could help save real rhinos

When asked to name an endangered species, rhinos are probably one of the first animals to come to most peoples' minds. In both Africa and Asia, poaching is causing populations to plummet, due mainly to demand for rhino horn as an ingredient in traditional Asian medicine – whether or not it actually has any medicinal value is another question altogether. In any case, San Francisco-based biotech startup Pembient is developing what it hopes could be a solution: inexpensive bioengineered rhino horn, which could out-compete the genuine item.

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