Under a partnership announced earlier this year, VolAero Drones is demonstrating that unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) equipped with thermal imaging can effectively spot and track pythons at night.
Along with famed outdoorsman Bill Booth, the company is using aerial thermal imagery to tackle the Burmese python infestation problem in the Florida Everglades. They say more than 100,000 Burmese pythons in the area have decimated 90% of small wildlife and survived all attempts at eradication.
“Python hunters finally have a tool to make hunting more efficient, bringing down the python numbers that are devastating Florida’s Everglades,” says Booth. “This drone and thermal technology is light-years ahead of shining a flashlight into the darkness and hoping for the best. The thermal imagery picked up not just the monster pythons, but also native snakes as small as 18 inches. This suggests that we’ll be able to spot and eliminate clusters of python hatchlings, which will help curb their reproductive cycle.”
A demonstration video, recorded at night in the Florida Everglades on Nov. 11, clearly shows the thermal outline of a massive Burmese python being captured by Bill Booth:
“We are happy to advance our relationship with Bill Booth, Florida’s No. 1 snake hunter,” comments Charles Zwebner, CEO of VolAero. “Along with Bart Bruni of Bruni Infrared Inc., who is one of 21 certified Master Thermographers in the world, we’ve put tech to use where traditional methods have been ineffective in resolving this environmental challenge.”
VolAero plans to share this demonstration with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Everglades National Park, the South Florida Water Management District and other organizations involved in python eradication.
Zwebner also invites inquiries from interested parties wishing to collaborate on UAS solutions to environmental challenges. VolAero has also started a crowdfunding campaign.