Flapping Bird-Like Drone Used to Keep Airports Safe
This is pretty neat and really could have a future in keeping airports safe from birds, which can cause really big problems when they come in contact with an aircraft. We’ve all seen the impact a bird strike can have on an airplane, with US Airways Flight 1549, which landed on the Hudson after a bird strike, serving as the best example of the dangers associated with a bird strike.
Well, one company has come up with an attempt to solve that problem and lower that risk. Their solution: bird-like drones that flap like real birds.
The company describes their product as,
Robirds are truly unique remotely controlled robotic birds of prey, with the realistic appearance and weight of their living counterparts. Robirds use flapping wing flight as a means of propulsion, with a flight performance comparable to real birds. Based on nature itself, the Robirds offer new and exciting possibilities in bird control. By triggering the instinct of birds, through the combination of silhouette and wing movement, chasing off birds becomes fully controllable. We make sure that the man on the ground is in control of what happens in the air. We have developed two types of Robirds: the falcon, which can be used to chase off birds up to 3kg, and the eagle to chase away any type of bird.
Here’s a demonstration of the technology, which definitely is pretty neat:
Tech Crunch writes:
Traditionally, airports, fruit farms at harvest season and others have chased off birds by using a highly skilled falconer to fly a trained bird of prey in an area. Clear Flight Solutions’ Robird is the remote-controllable, doesn’t-need-feeding version of the same ideaa.
“The theory is simple,” Wessel Straatman, one of the engineers behind the product tells me. “Birds know that birds of prey are territorial. When we fly Robird in an area, other birds learn that it’s dangerous to be there. As a result, they’ll avoid it, solving the problem for a period of time.”
Robird is designed to mimic a raptor. It flies by flapping its wings and steers by using two tail fins. It can even glide through the air for periods of time, just like a stalking bird of prey would do. This is combined with a pilot who knows what patterns birds use when they hunt, to help chase the birds away.
“We can actually drive birds in the direction we want, much like a sheep dog can be used to control sheep,” the company’s operations manager Robert Jonker tells me. “It works incredibly well.”
The company has been working on perfecting a wing-flapping drone for 15 years, trialling its product in its native Netherlands. Now, it’s ready to go international.
The Company, Clear Flight Solutions, keeps quiet about what it actually costs to use their services, but in an interview with Tech Crunch, someone associated with the company suggested that it would cost between $1,000-1,500 to use a Robird for one day. That may seem like a lot, but in comparison to the cost of training a real raptor and paying to feed and maintain its care, it isn’t all that unmanageable. On top of that, the drones are printed using a 3-D printer and then assembled.
So, it may be any time that we’ll see drones flying in the vicinity of airport to keep birds away. Pretty intriguing and an interesting technology that can make airports safer!