Know your mouse – facial recognition technology coming for Mickey and Mighty

Rentokil to kill rats through facial recognition software

The world’s biggest pest-control group, Rentokil, is planning to kill rats through the use of facial recognition software, with trials now taking place in people’s homes, according to Sky News.

The software – which Rentokil began developing 18 months ago in partnership with Vodafone – tracks the beasties’ habits to help decide how to kill rats. Rentokil has been developing facial recognition for several years but it has moved a step further forward following the acquisition of an Israeli company.

Mice can fit through openings that are only 5 millimetres wide. They can easily enter any building, vehicle, or farm equipment. Mouse traps are commonly used to rid an area of mice, but this isn’t the best choice.

Following laboratory trials, which helped the software learn about the creatures, the software is now being used in real-life settings.

Rentokil says rodents are thought to be responsible for more deaths than all the wars over the last 1,000 years.

Andy Ransom, the chief executive, told Sky News…

“With facial recognition technology, you can see that rat number one behaved differently from rat number three. And the technology will always identify which rat has come back, where are they feeding, where are they sleeping, who’s causing the damage, which part of the building are they coming from, where are they getting into the building from, whether it’s the same rodent that caused the problem last week.”

To develop the technology, Rentokil observed the rats in a controlled setting, with cameras monitoring behaviour and feeding this into the artificial intelligence system. They used machine learning to build recognition capabilities.

It has since moved on to kill rats in customers’ houses to test the technology, and while it remains in the early stages, the company hopes it will make pest control more effective and efficient.

Rentokil Initial is a British business services group based in Crawley, England. It was founded in 1925 as a pest-control business but subsequently expanded and diversified.


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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.