Robotic Rhino Could Help Prevent Poaching

Robots improve the world that we live in. They make our lives safer, more convenient, and more productive. Industrial robots crank out staggering volumes of products, and remove workers from dangerous work environments. Medical robots assist in surgeries with precision and control that even the steadiest surgeon’s hand could never match. Robots can defuse and detonate bombs, removing humans from danger. We have search and rescue robots that can help find people faster and more efficiently in emergency situations. In other words, robots do a lot of good. If there’s a problem, robots can often provide a solution.

The illegal hunting of animals is a problem in many parts of the world. Poaching has put many animals in danger, including African rhinos. These rhinos are a popular target for poachers because of the demand for their horns. Nearly 6,000 African rhinos have been hunted and killed by poachers since 2008. A mechanical engineer has come up with an idea for robots to help save the rhino.

How would a robotic rhino stop poachers?

While it’s fun to day dream about a robotic battle tank-like robot equipped with lasers hunting poachers across the Serengeti, the engineer’s idea for robotic rhinos is far more tame, and far more practical. Charles Bombadier shares his idea in an WIRED article.

He calls the robot Ramekera. The robo rhino would be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, and lumber across the African plains thanks to combination of hydraulics and servomotors. Ramekera would roam with a rhino herd, and track and report nearby human activity. The robotic rhino would look like and move like an actual rhinoceros, and could potentially keep rhinos safe from poachers.

Authorities have deployed robots against poachers in the past

While this idea of a robo-rhino guardian may seem wild, robots have been used to catch and deter poachers before. Game wardens in several states have deployed deer decoys in an effort to crack down on illegal hunting. The decoys moved their heads through remote controlled servos. These robotic deer looked realistic enough to fool poachers, making them an effective tool against poaching.