AREND Project aims to ward off poachers with unmanned aerial vehicles

Like many a technology before it, the aerial drone is finding applications far beyond military circles, from burrito delivery to surveying broken bridges. One emerging area with huge potential is wildlife conservation, with drones delivering the ability to patrol and detect illegal poachers from the air.
AREND (Aircraft for Rhino and Environmental Defense) is an international team of students currently developing an unmanned aerial system with the ultimate objective of combating poaching in Africa’s national parks. The AREND project is backed by Wildlife Protection Solutions (WPS), an international non-profit group concerned with the conservation of endangered species. The team consists of experts in aerospace, mechanical, electrical and software engineering stationed around the globe, from Helsinki to Colorado.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year, the team at AREND has proceeded to ramp up development of the system. The aircraft has a pusher configuration, which refers to the location of the propeller at the tail end of the fuselage, with communications antennas built into the wings and a gimbaled camera into the nose. The team says it will be capable of silently performing autonomous searches, capturing quality images throughout and then returning safely to a landing area.