ElephantEdge tracker: breakdown advanced IoT animal tracking solutions


  • First OpenCollar for Elephant successfully deployed in Liwonde National Park — Park Rangers in Liwonde National Park in Malawi are for the first time able to see elephant locations every fifteen minutes. This is possible due to new Smart Parks technology providing Rangers with GPS-locations four times an hour. With this information, elephants can be better protected. Read More
  • ‘Holy grail in rhino monitoring’ deployed in Liwonde National Park — Smart Parks and African Parks have successfully implanted the first GPS LoRaWAN™ enabled transmitters into the horns of two eastern black rhinos at Liwonde National Parks in Malawi. Read More
  • Successful deployment of OpenCollars on big grazers in Europe — Smart Parks and administrator PWN have successfully deployed OpenCollar tracker on Wisent and Scottish Highlanders in the Dutch National Park Zuid-Kennemerland, the first nature reserve in Europe that is equipped with a Smart Parks network. By using smart sensor technology, administrator PWN can now gather more information about the behaviour of large grazers. This knowledge helps with complicated management issues and contributes to a sustainable balance between nature, grazer, and recreation. Read More

Bluetooth communication and processing core nRF52840 by Nordic Semiconductor in uBlox NINA-B30x series modules

The core of the user experience of using this wildlife tracker is in the initial setup and placement of the tracker on the animal. The ranger, park manager and/or veterinarian is looking for control and confidence that the device will work as expected once the procedure of tagging the animal has started.

LoRaWAN + GPS +WiFi positioning with Semtech LR1110 transceiver and high-precision GPS positioning with uBlox ZOE-M8G

Another key component that we like to talk about is the Semtech LR1110 transceiver. It combines a very capable LoRa transceiver with power-efficient GPS and WiFi positioning, thus enabling an order of magnitude more efficient positioning then true GPS receivers. The LR1110 transceiver is ideal for applications where very efficient operation is required, but not for applications wherein the tracker requires an internally resolved position for geofencing or very precise positioning. For this the best in class uBlox ZOE-M8G GPS transceiver is used to cover exactly these non-LoRa Edge applications.

Wireless communication with Taoglas components and Lacuna.space connectivity

The design incorporates a wide set of wireless communication features. Bluetooth BLE directly from the nRF52 and WiFi from the LR1110 are combined into a single antenna for short-range communication and beacon detection. A single Taoglas ceramic patch antenna solution is used for GPS, switched between the LR1110 for power-efficient location acquisition and the ZOE-M8G for high precision positioning. The LR1110 LoRa interface is connected to the circularly polarized antenna suitable for efficient communication terrestrially to all the gateways as well as at the same time to work with the Lacuna.space LoRaWAN network in the low earth orbit, enabling true global coverage. Furthermore, the LR1110 additional RF output is used as a VHF transceiver, enabling on-demand legacy pinging that is used in more traditional wildlife tracking applications.

Sensors for monitoring, data storage with WesternDigital and on-device machine learning with Edge Impulse

Deploying a tracker on an animal with a collar offers an immense sensing opportunity well beyond position tracking. A wide suite of accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer options are available for this tracker forming the IMU core in addition to a microphone for sound recording, water detect switch to detect underwater events and more. The large volume of data created from all of these sources is stored on a Western Digital Edge microSD card, such that it can be retrieved from the unit at any point or wirelessly downloaded upon request, particularly creating the data for training of machine learning models. EdgeImpulse is the key player in this part, enabling processing all the sensor data in real-time and recognizing activities and events, which due to their very small form-factor can be easily transmitted through LoRaWAN or other throughput limited IoT methods.

Mechanics and power

You may be amazed by the high chips and sensors on-board of this new tracker, we need to take into account the fact that all of this is being put on a several tonne animal and must survive the constant wear and tear. As IRNAS we are specialized in mechanical design for robust enclosures for our IoT solution deployments and have developed design methods to create enclosures to withstand even deep-sea conditions, while at the same time tuning the antennas for maximal performance from within. This is enabled by the combination of highly durable 3D milled plastic and aluminium hybrid solution, fully watertight and capable of taking significant load.

Industrial applications beyond animal conservation

Animal conservation is one of the best testing grounds for new technologies, extreme conditions and a very positive field to work in in general. Such projects not only challenge IRNAS to reach far out in our development spectrum but also provide a platform where we can test new technologies and validate them in most demanding environments. Through projects like ElephantEdge tracker, we can keep listing technological solutions to our portfolio that also apply to a number of demanding industrial applications we are jointly exploring with Avnet IoT solutions.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Institute IRNAS

Institute IRNAS

We are applying today’s knowledge to create systems for an open future.