Current and Upcoming Projects

What We're Up To These Days

The free access of ravens to sites with rich food resources is largely responsible for the explosive  growth of raven numbers in the Mojave and throughout western North America in the last half century. Much of our work centers on addressing this problem. Other efforts include  tortoise habitat enhancements, continuous innovations in remotely controlled conservation devices and expanding the uses of 3D printing.

Semi-Autonomous Rover- Department of Defense (On-going)

We are helping develop an Artificial Intelligence- based remotely operated rover capable of navigating wild desert terrain and able to recognize tortoises and signs of their presence. This device will confirm the use of habitat by tortoises, focusing the efforts of human biologists on these occupied areas.  With real-time monitoring  capabilities,  it will greatly expand the reach of a single biologist or observers in highly innovative ways.

Subsidy Denial-  US Fish and Wildlife Service (Winter 2023-24)

By using our technology, we are able to drive ravens from so-called "subsidy sites": dairies; sewage treatment plants; composting facilities; landfills; and agricultural areas. These are areas that contain large amounts of highly concentrated resources. On the cutting edge, we are using an internet connected laser, allowing truly remote operation to reduce this giveaway to ravens. 

Remote Egg Oiling- US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey and several utilities (On-going)

Since 2016 Hardshell, with partners, has been refining and expanding methods to accurately deliver non-toxic oil to raven eggs in their nests. Adult birds continue to care for the undamaged, non-viable eggs, thus tying up their nesting effort. Our innovation is to pair cameras with an oil delivery mechanism mounted on drones and telescoping poles. These combinations allow treatment of nests high in electrical transmission structures, and on trees and cliffs. Recent declines in raven counts in areas of intensive REO indicate that the effort is paying conservation benefits.

Intelligent Remote Egg Oiling System- Department of Defense (On-going)

The goal of this project is to build on the now established REO technique for raven reproduction reduction. We are part of a consortium developing a fully autonomous, AI-facilitated drone capable of independently identifying bird nests and accurately delivering oil to the eggs therein. Such a system will allow wider use of REO by people with lower levels of drone training, e.g. utility linemen. The easier the method the more widely it will be used.

Boulder City Conservation Easement Predation Reduction- Clark County, NV (Winter 2023 -2025)

We are expanding the application of predation reduction technology, including laser-based subsidy denial, remote egg oiling and deployment of the Techno-tortoiseTM predator aversion training system (PATS). This project will involve the coordinated use of several methods to reduce predation on desert tortoises by ravens and coyotes in the Boulder City Conservation Easement.

Wildlife Conservation Board Comprehensive Desert Tortoise Conservation Project - California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Spring 2024-2027)

The coordinated application of predation reduction techniques (laser-based raven repulsion, remote egg oiling, Techno-tortoise) and tortoise habitat enhancement (vegetation management, hydration enhancement) coupled with intensive tortoise monitoring will be done on several high-density desert tortoise population hotspots in the west Mojave. Additionally, we will characterize the habitat of these hotspots, making it easier to identify the set of conditions likely to support tortoises and thus to efficiently find and protect other such high value population hotspots. The Wildlife Conservation awarded the project 1.97M in funding in November, 2023. The project will run through 2027.

3D Printing of Tortoise and Turtle Shells- multiple clients (On-going)

Hardshell Labs has developed 3D printing methodologies to create tortoise and turtle shells. These replicas are at the core of the Techno-tortoise TM PATS, as well as the testing tools for the first Mojave-wide assessment of raven predation pressure.  Our 3D shells are being used to train wildlife biologists,  and are being tested for the development of AI tortoise recognition systems.  In addition to the Mojave desert tortoise, the same expertise has been applied to three species of North American aquatic turtles and one South African tortoise.


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