Different GPS wildlife tracking solutions

WildLife Tracking

GPS wildlife Tracking or GPS Telemetry is another high-potential growth area for GPS applications. With ever smaller dimensions and weights and the availability of solar cell power these devices can be used in a growing number of cases. For most of us GPS tracking means probably GPS vehicle tracking systems, but we will show even more spectacular applications in quite different fields.

Collecting GPS data is one thing, but reading the data is often more complicated and, especially in real-time, rather expensive. The simpler ‘passive’ units store the data in internal memory. Data can only be read, once the unit is retrieved by the user or sometimes when the unit comes within the reach of a radio connection between the unit and a (portable) receiver.

More sophisticated GPS wildlife tracking units send the data via a cellular phone network in regular time intervals or on demand in the case of units with two-way communication. It is obvious that this only can function within the coverage area of the cellular phone network.

Two-way communication has the extra advantage that the programming of the unit can be modified, even with the unit in use and at distance. This way the user can change the time intervals between reports, or even met the unit in a pause position.

The most expensive GPS wildlife tracking systems send the data in regular intervals via satellites (Argos, GlobalStar). This stands for a really global coverage, but is not a real time solution as the satellites can not be reached 24h/24h. Data can only be sent or received when a satellite is overhead.

GPS Wildlife tracking systems

GPS wildlife tracking systems are now available for almost all mammals and even for the bigger birds. In 1994 the first collar, the Lotek GPS_1000 weighed 1.8 kg and was too heavy for mid-sized mammals. Less than 10 years later Microwave Telemetry has developed the PTT-100, a 70 gr solar powered GPS tracking system that transmits the data to the Argos satellite system. We present some other manufacturers and their programs.

The above-mentioned Lotek specializes in GPS collars for small to large mammals. Their collars contain a VHF tracking beacon. Other innovations include remote two-way communication, which allows you to retrieve data on demand and/or reprogram the collar while it is still on the animal. Temperature and mortality sensors as well as field uploads and downloads. All the GPS wildlife tracking collars can be equipped with a remote release mechanism or a drop-off mechanism that is activated after the expiration of a factory pre-programmed time delay.

Televilt Sweden manufactures three different types of collars as well as backpacks for birds. The GPS-Simplex uses a radio link while GPS-Direct and GPS-Weblink use a cell phone modem (GSM 900/1800). All systems can be fitted with a drop off (pre-programmed or remote control release). Televilt only uses Lithium batteries. GPS-Direct and GPS-Weblink are customer programmable while on animal.

Telemetry Solutions is a Californian based telemetry company involved in GPS wildlife tracking since 1998. Last year the development of a proper GPS collar started. The project focuses on equipment reliability (expressed in back-up VHF beacon, two built-in drop off units, custom made GPS receiver amplifier etc.) and how the product is supported. TS intends to deliver a very reliable system and back it up with customer support. This may not seem as anything new; however, wildlife biologists all around the world are used to failing GPS collars and not too friendly customer support. TS intends to change that, to the better. Toma Track is their distributor of GPS wildlife tracking devices in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

BlueSky Telemetry in the UK manufactures GPS tracking collars. The modular design of each collar range enables the biologist to pick and choose different components to suit their individual application. The following options are available: GSM mobile telephone engine, UHF radio modem and Satellite telephone engine, enabling remote setup and download. Other options include Programmable remote drop-off, Temperature, Mortality and Activity sensors and a VHF or UHF radio telemetry beacon.

Telonics has a long history in manufacturing wildlife telemetry, conventional telemetry and tracking devices. Their Store-on-Board GPS Collars for animal tracking applications, with or without ARGOS Uplink, are only part of a program of quality electronics for wildlife, environmental research and special applications.

Wildlife tracking

Environmental Studies from Germany is distributor of Vectronic Aerospace GPS collars. The modular system around the GPS Plus collar offers two completely different options of data download while the collar is still on the animal: via UHF radio link on demand or continuously via GSM mobile phone directly into the office. Several accessories are available: a VHF beacon, an activity/mortality logger, a temperature logger and different drop-off systems. All GPS collars can store the positions of the animal on board in non-volatile flash memory. The same technology is also available as a 160gr backpack for large birds.

Wildlife Track Inc. develops and manufactures telemetry and direction finding systems. Their GPS wildlife tracking collars store up to 6240 three-dimensional locations with date and time in nonvolatile memory. Nominal weight is 500 gr and a VHF beacon is standard on all collars. GPS battery lasts up to 7 years (one fix per day). GPS collar circumference is adjustable and WGS 84 or NAD 83 Datums can be specified upon ordering.

The Advanced Telemetry Systems GPS Remote Release Collar can be remotely triggered to drop off the animal on command with the available ATS Command Unit. The collar will also automatically drop off as it reaches the end of its battery life to ensure data retrieval. Up to 8190 locations can be stored on board the unit. The collar incorporates a VHF transmitter to signal location, the status of the last GPS co-ordinate, mortality and battery conditions. The ATS collar also provides data on animal activity, ambient temperature, mortality, VHF duty cycle program, battery voltage and the amount of time logged on the battery backup.

North Star has developed a line of animal GPS collars and bird borne platform transmitter terminals (PTT’s). Acquisition of GPS locations for store and forward through a satellite service provider can be programmed in a variety of duty cycles.

Source: GPS-practice-and-fun.com

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