Improving tracking technology
Flying foxes are a major player in the biodiversity stakes. Their ecological role serves to pollinate and disperse seeds of trees including our iconic Eucalyptus.
They can also carry diseases that pose a threat to human health. For example, flying foxes are the natural host of the deadly Hendra virus, and other bat species have been linked to the recent ebola virus outbreak in West Africa.
By tracking these animals we can gather data that informs analytical models used to predict disease spread. These models can guide effective management strategies in order to contain these outbreaks more proactively.
Up until now it has been difficult to undertake surveillance of flying foxes as they are nocturnally active and can travel vast distances. This is why a sustainable and versatile tracking platform was needed.
Camazotz is a low power autonomous device that promises to revolutionise long-term tracking of mobile assets, from wildlife such as flying foxes to livestock and even public bicycle fleets.
It uses a low power system-on-a-chip with processing and short-range radio communication, multimodal sensors including a GPS module, inertial unit, temperature, pressure, audio and solar panels for long-term energy replenishment.
Camazotz’s ability to operate sustainably without any human involvement or continuous connection make it suitable for most outdoor tracking applications.
The technology’s benefits include:
- Autonomy: As a fully autonomous tracking device, Camazotz can track mobile assets almost indefinitely with no human intervention. This feature is particularly useful for wildlife tracking where there is virtually no physical access to devices once deployed.
- Configurability: This technology supports full reconfiguration through remote wireless commands. A key feature that can be remotely configured is contact logging, where Camazotz tracking devices can be set to exchange information with other Camazotz devices. This enables data exchange from remote devices that may not return to a base node for a long time.
- Sustainability: Camazotz provides near-indefinite tracking for small highly mobile assets. It operates on a tiny 300mAh battery, but thanks to its dual solar panels, it can harvest energy from the sun to replenish its supplies.
Tracking flying foxes across Australia
Camazotz has been in operation within the National Flying Fox Monitoring Program for nearly two years. Dozens of devices have been placed on flying fox collars and have successfully delivered high quality tracking information that is unprecedented for animals of this size and weight. This deployment is planned to expand to around 1000 devices.
The information captured by these devices is highly valuable to vector ecologists who use it to predict Hendra disease and crop damage risk across Australia, and to understand the species' role in the ecosystem as seed dispersal agents.
Long-term tracking of small assets is a very active area of technology, with an increasing worldwide demand for location-based services and continuous tracking devices.
Other promising applications for Camazotz include traceability of goods and parcels, sensor-based logistics and asset tracking.