Scion developing AI for seedling surveys

Wednesday 16 Oct 2019

Deep learning algorithm can identify seedlings - Scion has pioneered a new artificial intelligence (AI) based system that uses low-cost RGB imagery from UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to identify radiata pine seedlings. The algorithm they have created could soon replace manual surveys, which are laborious, sometimes dangerous and only suited to small areas.

Surveys are traditionally carried out after planting to ensure the right number of trees have been planted and survive to reach the target for each site. Scion’s advanced AI- system can detect seedlings with extremely high accuracy, detecting between 94-98 per cent of seedlings in a range of test sites and landscapes.

The next steps are to trial the method with industry partners and explore expanding the algorithm to detect native tree species.

All afforestation efforts in New Zealand stand to benefit from this work as it unlocks the potential for large-scale automatic assessments of newly planted sites for density and survival.

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