Five high-tech projects that benefit nature

Technology provides us with powerful tools to help us not only to understand nature, but also to protect it. Below are five projects that contribute to protecting the environment.


Neurala, air shepherds

Drones could soon play an important role in the fight against poaching. To thwart the plans of armed gangs that hunt and kill herds of elephants and rhinoceroses, the Lindbergh Foundation has turned to the Air Shepherd program from Neurala. Neurala is a deep learning specialist that has already teamed up with the French group Parrot. They have created drones equipped with artificial intelligence that are able to track the herds and warn the authorities of any approaching poachers.

Géosciences Rennes, using telescopes for volcanoes

When the first particle accelerators were constructed, they were built deep underground to avoid cosmic ray bombardment. However, they did not take into account the incredible penetration power of muons — cosmic particles able to travel through several dozen meters of rock.

This energy potential, which has already been used to scan the Pyramid of Khafre in the manner of an X-ray scan, is being used by the CNRS Géosciences Rennes laboratory/University of Rennes 1 telescopes.

These six muon telescopes probe the Soufrière volcano to study the changes in the density of the materials that form the inside of the volcano. Given the high quality of the results, the telescopes can now be added to the monitoring network for La Soufrière.

Copyright : D. Gibert / Géosciences Rennes / CNRS Photothèque

Muadib, the desert ship

Designed to cross deserts and other arid landscapes, the Muadib is a concept vehicle created by the think tank Imaginactive. Since 2013, this informal group of designers has been working on a variety of projects for future means of transport and their possible applications. The Muadib takes its name from the desert mice in the novel Dune. The vehicle is a kind of self-contained “desert cruise ship” that enables the study of inhospitable environments, and can accommodate a group of scientists and their equipment in addition to being used for tourism purposes.


Tidal turbine, creating current from currents

As the name suggests, a tidal turbine is a turbine that converts water power into energy without using the wind. Installed under the sea at a depth of 35 meters, the Paimpol-Bréhat tidal turbine farm in Brittany, France, uses the energy produced by the tides. The turbines are able to harness the currents generated by flood and ebb tides.

The project which began in 2008 is now completed, and these gigantic turbines, which are as tall as a five-story building, will power 3000 homes by 2019.

Tara, taking on the oceans

For 13 years, the Tara foundation, established by Agnès b. and Étienne Bourgois, has been organizing maritime expeditions around the globe aboard the Tara. Designed by Jean-Loup Étienne, the Tara – formerly the Antarctica — is a schooner built to withstand the most extreme weather conditions. With the 11 expeditions that it has completed so far, the Foundation has been able to conduct numerous scientific projects, in addition to artistic and educational projects.

Tara, currently in port at Fiji, left Lorient in May 2016 and is now on route to Asia and Oceania, traveling via the American continent before her return in 2018. At the heart of this ocean expedition is the study of coral reefs that are under threat from global warming. There’s no time to waste — take a minute to look at the foundation’s site now. It is very comprehensive and allows you to follow the expedition from day to day via podcasts, videos and real-time maps.

Cyrille Baron

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