UAVs have formed a large part of the present world. Industry and photography drones have been making it big recently but what seems to be a fascinating new development is in the field of law enforcement. Drones are innovating and changing Africa. From dropping food and medical aid in the affected areas to surveillance, drones can be seen influencing the African community in a progressive way. An African based startup called ATLAN Space has been making headlines for quite some time now. ATLAN Space is developing drones which can identify and report environmental crimes like illegal fishing, poaching or mining.

In June, ATLAN Space won the National Geographic Society’s $150,000 Marine Protection Prize to implement a pilot project to combat illegal fishing in the Seychelles.

These drones will be feeded with locations of fishing zones or the zones which are most susceptible to such kind of activity, says Badr Idrissi, CEO and co-founder of ATLAN Space. Once a drone spots a boat, its AI module will enable it to identify whether it’s a cruising boat, tanker or fishing vessel. After this is defined, the drone will then confirm whether the boat is operating within the designated fishing zone or out of it. It will even analyze whether the boat is an authorized fishing vessel or not.

If the drone concludes the activity to be illegal it will register the boat’s location, identification number and the number of people on board and forward this data to the authorities via satellite communication. The government currently employs light aircrafts or surveillance vessels for this purpose but this drone could prove to be a game changer.

“With artificial intelligence we are able to replace the pilot, the data analyst, transmission equipment, and with that we can reduce the cost.” Idrissi explained.

He also suggested that using AI-guided drones would relieve coast guards from their monitoring duties and allow them to focus on intercepting vessels.

According to him, ATLAN Space technology can be integrated into any kind of drone and with a modification of a combustion engine the drone could reach operational ranges of 800 Km.  

It is estimated that illegal fishing in Africa costs coastal countries in West Africa approximately $ 2.3 Billion every year. The introduction of such kind of drones can potentially transform the country.

West Africa has an annual catch of 64% due to overfishing.