Keeping the elephants safe in South Africa. (Flickr)

Drones are proven for surveillance or delivery, but what's less widely known is their usefulness for herding elephants and seeing through walls.

Quick take: Businesses and non-profits are finding innovative ways to use drones to accomplish tasks that humans cannot do, and these developments have yielded benefits for environmental conservation, military strategy and more.

  • Conservation Drones is equipping Nepal and parts of Africa with low-cost aircraft that spot elephant poachers in the forest. (Scientific American)
  • Drones in Hawaii have found rare plant species by flying to precarious spots like steep cliffs. (The Verge)
  • Researchers at the University of California in Santa Barbara have developed drones that see through walls, making them expert spies. As two drones navigate a closed structure, one emits a Wi-Fi signal, and the other picks it up. Together, they build a 3D image of the interior. (TechCrunch)
  • Drones found a till-then undiscovered ancient monument in Petra. It's the size of an Olympic swimming pool. (National Geographic)
  • Drones are herding elephants away from crops during harvest time in Tanzania. The pachyderms retreat when they spot the unmanned aircraft. (New Atlas)
  • An Italian project, "Paint By Drone," uses the aircraft to produce murals and designs on massive vertical surfaces. (CityLab)
  • In Australia, an engineer is developing drones that release germinated seeds to replace forests. She predicts the drones will be able to plant a billion trees a year to combat the climate effects of deforestation. (Australian Broadcasting Company)

Go deeper

Obama: Trump is "jealous of COVID's media coverage"

Former President Barack Obama launched a blistering attack on President Trump while campaigning for Joe Biden in Orlando on Tuesday, criticizing Trump for complaining about the pandemic as cases soar and joking that he's "jealous of COVID's media coverage."

Driving the news: Trump has baselessly accused the news media of only focusing on covering the coronavirus pandemic — which has killed over 226,000 Americans so far and is surging across the country once again — as a way to deter people from voting on Election Day and distract from other issues.

Wisconsin Democrats: Don't return absentee ballots by mail

Signs for Joe Biden are seen outside a home in Coon Valle, Wisconsin, on Oct. 3. Photo by KEREM YUCEL via Getty

Wisconsin Democrats are urging voters to return absentee ballots to election clerks’ offices or drop boxes after a Supreme Court decision on Monday prevented the state from extending its deadline for counting absentee ballots, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: 1,344,535 of the 1,706,771 Wisconsin voters who requested absentee ballots have returned them, according to the Times. The remaining 366,236 could prove critical in the battleground state, where President Trump won by a thin margin in 2016.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Winter coronavirus threat spurs new surge of startup activity

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

U.S. coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are surging, with cold weather arriving before even the best-case scenario for a widely distributed vaccine. Now we're also beginning to see an increase in coronavirus-related startup funding, focused on both testing and pharma.

Driving the news: Gauss, a Silicon Valley computer vision startup focused on health care, tells Axios that it's raised $10 million to accelerate development and commercialization of an at-home rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

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