POLLi Unveiled: Unlocking Mysteries of Monarch Habitats with Drones, AI, and Cloud Computing

Photo by Raymond Eichelberger from Pexels

Botlink and Simple Business Automation Collaborate to Launch Innovative Monarch Conservation Software Platform, POLLi

In a collaborative effort, Botlink and Simple Business Automation (SBA) introduce the POLLi software platform, a groundbreaking solution designed to streamline data collection for conservation organizations. The platform leverages the power of drones, artificial intelligence (AI), and cloud computing to enhance the efficiency and scalability of monarch habitat monitoring across North America.

Developed in close collaboration with the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV), a national partnership network dedicated to protecting monarchs and other pollinators, POLLi addresses the challenges posed by labor-intensive manual field counts. The platform’s innovative features include automated drone operations for image collection, machine-learning cloud computing for object detection, and a sophisticated online software interface for image analysis and reporting.

Botlink, founded in Fargo, N.D. by military pilots and engineers, is a key contributor to the development of the POLLi software platform. Matt Sather, the general manager of Botlink, said “The team’s experience in developing drone flight software, robust cloud APIs for image processing, and frontend user interfaces for analyzing data, came together into a single product. A lot of long hours went into POLLi, and I think it’s something the entire team should be incredibly proud of.”

POLLi’s Flight application underwent rigorous testing throughout the summer of 2023, amassing hundreds of flight hours and capturing thousands of photos. The AI models employed by POLLi identified tens of thousands of individual milkweed plants across the Upper Midwest, showcasing the platform’s potential impact on conservation efforts.

Simple Business Automation (SBA), founded in Waverly, M.N., is another key collaborator in the development of POLLi. Greg Emerick, CEO of Simple Business Automation, highlighted the platform’s capacity to catalyze positive change, stating, “POLLi captures and processes exponentially greater amounts of milkweed data than the manual efforts performed today, embodying my belief that when we harness innovation for the greater good, we can protect and preserve the natural world for future generations.”

The heart of the POLLi platform lies in its algorithms, particularly its object detection capabilities that can accurately identify common milkweed across large areas. This key differentiator contributes to unprecedented efficiencies in data collection and analysis for conservation purposes.

Monarch Joint Venture (MJV), a coordinating force behind national monarch and pollinator conservation goals since 2009, played a crucial role in guiding the development of POLLi. Wendy Caldwell, executive director of Monarch Joint Venture, emphasized the broader impact of POLLi beyond monarch butterflies, stating, “When seamlessly integrated into conservation research, it equips us with advanced tools to precisely assess habitat quality and distribution, enabling more strategic resource allocation for the protection of a diverse range of plants and animals.”

POLLi’s ongoing development includes the incorporation of new machine learning algorithms that will enable it to identify additional plant species and other objects captured through drone photography in the near future.

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Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.

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