Lian Pin Koh expands conservation efforts by championing the use of low-cost autonomous aerial vehicles.

Why you should listen

Lian Pin Koh is a relentless tinkerer and science fiction movie geek, though most know him as an environmental scientist. His dreams of combining these interests led him to cofound, with colleague Serge Wich, the site ConservationDrones.org, a project dedicated to gathering intelligence on forests and wildlife through the use of low-cost unmanned flying machines.

Ground surveys are expensive, and are not conducted at a sufficient frequency. Furthermore, some remote tropical forests have never been really surveyed for biodiversity. Koh's machines have already collected valuable information in Sumatra, Congo, Gabon, and Madagascar.

He is an assistant professor of applied ecology and conservation at the ETH Zurich.

What others say

“Although it's still the "dawn of drone ecology," as one innovator calls it, these unmanned aerial vehicles are already skimming over Indonesia's jungle canopy to photograph orangutans, protecting rhinos in Nepal and studying invasive aquatic plants in Florida... A conservation drone pioneer, Lian Pin Koh of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, says the idea came to him after another sweaty, jungle slog in Sabah, Malaysia, hauling heavy equipment for his field work.” — Denis D. Gray, USA Today

Lian Pin Koh’s TED talk

Lian Pin Koh on the TED Blog

Ideas

Drones: will they save us or destroy us?

November 17, 2013

This week, we’ll be taking a deep dive into a provocative topic: drones. For all the rhetoric, you might think think that this is a zero sum game: Drones will either destroy the world, or they’ll save it. The truth, of course, is that, well, they’re set to do both. Sophisticated developments see extraordinary advances […]

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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

Conservation drones in the field: Lian Pin Koh at TEDGlobal 2013

June 11, 2013

At TEDGlobal 2013 environmental systems researcher Lian Pin Koh presents a new and unexpectedly benign use for drones: nature conservation. Nepal has natural landscapes that are beautiful — and in danger. But wildlife conservation is costly, and time- and labor-consuming. Behold: Conservation drones, a new tool being used in Nepal to combat wildlife crime. These […]

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Live from TEDGlobal 2013

Those Flying Things: The speakers in Session 2 at TEDGlobal 2013

June 11, 2013

When it comes to drones, a lot of ideas float in the ether. Technologists see potential for flying machines to help us in all sorts of unexpected ways, governments take measures that seem hard and fixed, and meanwhile the media oversimplifies and dramatizes the issue. The conversation on drones is ever changing — especially with […]

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