SnapperGPS: Open Hardware and Software for Energy-Efficient, Low-Cost Wildlife Tracking
PI: Rogers, Alex
Department: Computer Science (BL)
Localisation with global navigation satellite systems (GNSS), e.g., the GPS, is used in many applications, including tracking of animals by wildlife conservationists. Snapshot GNSS is a technique that only requires milliseconds of satellite signals to infer the position of a receiver. This is ideal for low-power applications such as animal tracking. However, snapshot GNSS is not popular for wildlife tracking yet, mainly since there are only few existing systems, which suffer from high costs (>$3000 USD/unit) or poor reliability. To address this, we developed SnapperGPS, a fully open-source, low-cost, and low-power wildlife tracking system based on novel robust snapshot GNSS algorithms.
The component cost of the receiver is <$30 USD. It records very short low-resolution samples resulting in particularly low power consumption, outperforming existing systems. It runs for >1 year on a tiny 40 mAh battery. This enables
- Longer deployments on small animals that cannot carry bulky batteries,
- Tracking of marine animals that surface only briefly,
- Studies with larger sample sizes on the same budget, and
- Uptake of wildlife tracking by conservationists for whom costs were previously too high.
SnapperGPS has already been deployed on turtles and birds.
We are confident that SnapperGPS has all the properties needed to foster the wider adoption of snapshot GNSS for wildlife tracking and to bring the benefits of this technology to the community. However, we need to overcome some barriers. Specifically, we would use the grant to finance
- Adaptions of the system to specific use cases,
- Improved hardware that is even easier to deploy in the field, and
- Support of early adopters.
We would partner with the Arribada Initiative, known for its field-proven open-source tracking tags, as an advisor and multiplier. Furthermore, we would directly work with end-users (wildlife conservationists) to carry out show-case deployments and learn about their real-world challenges.