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, 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


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