Our team, consisting of New York University Abu Dhabi students, has developed the Wadi Drone Program. The system we created leverages commercial drone technology and proprietary software for wildlife conservation and environmental protection.

The Wadi Drone collects data in regions where deploying communications infrastructure would spoil the natural heritage or present a human risk to physically retrieving data. The Wadi Drone is a fixed wing airplane with a 2.5​-metre wingspan carrying a small communications payload that retrieves information from ground-based scientific measurement devices.

Our team is comprised of four NYUAD students: Martin Slosarik, Ting-Che Lin, Vasily Rudchenko, Kai-Erik Jensen. Matt Karau, a visiting instructor and research associate, is the team’s faculty adviser. The team collaborated with the Emirates Wildlife Society – WWF and the country’s first national park, Wadi Wurayah National Park located in Fujairah, on the development of the Wadi Drone.

In Wadi Wurayah National Park, the drone flies over mountains and through valleys to wirelessly download photographs taken by ground-based camera traps that automatically capture images of wildlife as they pass in front of the camera’s motion sensor. The Wadi Drone serves the conservation efforts of the Emirates Wildlife Society by both increasing the rate at which photographic data of wildlife can be analyzed by experts, and by reducing the human risk associated with the current method of hiking to retrieve photos from remote camera traps. Wadi Drones further eliminate the need to employ a costly helicopter to reach camera traps during the summer months when high temperatures pose dangerous hiking conditions.