Birds and airplanes have coexisted in the sky since the first flight occurred in 1903.
To suggest that this has caused some problems, particularly in recent decades, would be an understatement.
Each year, hundreds of birds die as a result of collisions with aircraft.
Why was Robot Falcon made?
Bird strikes, as they are sometimes called, can potentially damage airplanes and cause delays or cancellations of flights, costing the International Civil Aviation Organization an estimated $1.4 billion annually.
Currently, airport wildlife management staff use a variety of deterrents to try to scare birds away, including drones and birds of prey like falcons.
Falcons can be challenging to handle and aren’t exactly cheap to breed and train.
Robot Falcon to the rescue!
A recent study found that the 70-centimeter-wide RobotFalcon, which is made of fibreglass and expanded polypropylene (EPP), replicates the movements of the enormous and strong falcon, is quite efficient at deterring birds.
The bird, which can be controlled from the ground, has a propeller on each wing and a camera mounted on its head for “first-person steering perspective.”
According to Rolf Storms, one of the report’s authors, during a series of tests conducted in 2019 in the region surrounding the Dutch city of Workum, the RobotFalcon was able to successfully ward off all flocks from fields within five minutes of taking off, with 50% of the sites cleared within 70 seconds.
Is Robot Falcon better than drones?
The RobotFalcon, which weighs 0.245 kilogrammes (about 0.5 lbs), was discovered to be superior to a drone in this comparison, with the drone only managing to clear 80% of the birds in the same period of time.
According to the paper that was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface, “new strategies to repel birds are needed.”
“And we demonstrate how the RobotFalcon can significantly help fill that void. It quickly and effectively cleared fields of corvids, gulls, starlings, and lapwings, with discouraged groups remaining away for hours. A drone was less efficient than the RobotFalcon because it took longer to discourage flocks and had lower success rates.”
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Drawbacks of the bot
When compared to a real bird of prey, the authors stated that the RobotFalcon had “the advantages of live predators but without their constraints” and was a “practical and ethical solution.”
The paper does, however, acknowledge the RobotFalcon’s drawbacks, pointing out that it requires professional pilots to fly it, that it cannot fly in the rain or in severe winds, and that its 15-minute battery life is also a drawback.
A larger robot that resembles a bird, such as an eagle, may need to be constructed for this purpose because the bird proved less successful at scaring away large birds, such as geese or herons.
Robo Falcon, paving way for better inventions?
According to Storms, who conducted the fieldwork, “the birds’ response (as indicated by the distance at which they began to fly, or the flight initiation distance) did not alter over the course of the study.”
“This can be a sign that the birds aren’t getting acclimated to us, or it might be the result of us scaring away fresh, impressionable birds every day as a result of the fluctuating bird population. In any case, it demonstrates that the approach is still successful after a lot of time has passed.”
Storms continued by advising airports and air bases to think about utilizing the RobotFalcon in addition to current deterrence techniques “for the highest effect.”
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