A group of researchers at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology (IIIT) in Delhi, working with a grant from Microsoft AI for Earth, is using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, cloud computing to track the movements and identify monkeys in a bid to come up with a humane solution to the rampant monkey problem in the capital.
According to a Microsoft blog post, the AI solution will be used to control the population or carry out sterilisation procedures of monkeys in the city. It’s seen as an alternative to physical tagging of monkeys which is more painstaking.
The researchers chose the Rhesus Macaque as the subject of the study as it is seen in high numbers in cities. The species is well known for causing problems — people across India suffer around 1,000 monkey-bite injuries every day in addition to food and property loss.
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The solution, developed by IIIT’s Ankita Shukla, involves capturing facial recognition data of monkeys in Delhi, a work which is currently happening manually, but which will soon be moved to machines. Currently, the researchers are working with a large dataset of around 4K images of 93 monkeys, which is being used to train the algorithm to recognise individual faces. As the dataset expands, the team will use cloud computing to process the data.
The researchers are also developing a mobile application that will allow people in Delhi to capture photos of monkeys, tag their location and upload them directly to the project’s database. Once uploaded, the researchers from IIIT Delhi and the city’s animal control officers would then be able to identify and locate monkeys that require sterilisation.
Furthermore, the tagging of geolocation data allows the team to monitor the movement of groups of monkeys across certain locations. This can be useful in detecting population displacement and to reduce conflict between humans and monkeys.
This year, the Indian government think-tank NITI Aayog infused INR 7.5 Cr for the AI research and development in India. Moreover, it also proposed to invest in 20 international centres for transformational AI (ICTAI), five centres of research excellence (CORE) and setting up of artificial intelligence research, analytics and knowledge assimilation platform (AIRAWAT), a cloud computing platform which will be accessible to the public.