A project using a combination of drones, deep learning, and blockchain to solve environmental challenges created by deforestation has won a challenge issued by Singularity University.
The SingularityU India Global Impact Challenge, created to foster innovations that can impact the lives of people living in India, announced the winners earlier this month.
First place was awarded to the Project Ajna team, who while brainstorming on a project for possible use cases for land record management system ‘OrigoChain’, stumbled upon a hitherto ignored fact — that while statistics reveal 10% of global carbon emissions are attributed to logging and 90% of it is carried out illegally.
Writing for SingularityU, team member Jikku Jose explained that the team realised that if they were to develop some method of curbing this illegal logging, they could in fact reduce carbon emissions by a very significant 9%.
Illegal logging is quite rampant and very difficult to curb due to the vast size and difficult terrain of the forest areas, making patrolling forests an almost insurmountable task.
However reporting fraud seemed to play a key role in curbing illegal logging, and the team considered that the technology that they had been developing at OrigoChain for twelve months, combined with a conceivable surveillance system, could actually have a large impact on illegal logging, if not eradicate it entirely.
The idea was to have drones fly over the edges of forests to detect missing trees using deep learning and then record the change in tree cover in blockchain for audit. Having recalculated and verified all of their calculations and after conducting feasibility study, the results were clear. The Ajna team had a cost-effective, potentially high-impact solution.
An opportunity presented itself at the Singularity University’s Global Impact Challenge. The Ajna team decided to enter, given the massive impact their solution could have and also to use the chance to test and showcase their OrigoChain drone technology combine. In early June, the Ajna team applied for GIC India 2018 along with 156 other teams from all over the country.
25 teams cleared the initial round and 10 teams were shortlisted on the final day. The Ajna team along with another team concerned with maternal health — Brün — were selected as the top 2 teams from India. As winner, Project Ajna will receive a seat at the SU Ventures Incubator Program, a 10-week program starting in September 2018.
The Kerela Startup Mission will also fund one person from each team to attend Singularity University’s 10-week Incubator and the Ajna team has chosen to be represented by Jibin Mathew.
Recognizing the value that the team could get if all 5 of them were to participate, the Ajna team is looking forward to getting a sponsor to help the whole team attend the program, and are looking forward to taking this to the next stage with OrigoChain.