Birds that stray into the paths of aircraft, eat crops, or spread disease from foraging in large numbers at landfills are, at best, a nuisance and, at worst, downright dangerous. Over the years people have tried everything from scaring them away with loud noises to trapping them – all with varying results. Now a designer from the Netherlands has come up with robotic birds of prey that look and fly exactly like the real thing.
Dubbed "Robirds," these flying raptor creations are the brainchild of Nico Nijenhuis from Clear Flight Solutions. The remotely controlled, realistic looking birds actually flap their wings to fly, and in a way that makes them remarkably similar to the real thing. According to the designers, this means that their artificial predator birds can fly in and around problem areas, encouraging nuisance birds to leave by exploiting the natural instinct of birds to avoid predators, particularly through silhouette and wing movement recognition.
In addition, the creators claim that – as the system is fully controllable by an operator on the ground with a remote control – especially difficult birds can be persuaded to leave by singling them out with the Robird to chase them away.
The practical upshot of all this is that – according to the designers – targeted bird populations learn to avoid what they perceive as the active stalking grounds of a bird of prey and that bird numbers in the areas of Robird operation drop by 50 percent or more. As a result of continued operations, the creators also claim that Robirds virtually eliminate the chances of nuisance bird flock habituation in the long term.
With a body length up to 58 cm (23 in) and a wingspan of 120 cm (47 in), the peregrine falcon model is capable of reaching 80 km/h (50 mph) and is designed to act as a deterrent to birds of up to 3 kg (6.6 lb). However, the eagle model is even more intimidating. With a body length nearly twice the length of the falcon and wingspan of up to 220 cm (86 in), this robot bird is designed to scare off any type of bird and would probably scare the odd human or two as well.
Though currently still wirelessly controlled by a human on the ground – and not quite as smart as a Festo seagull – plans are afoot to make the Robirds autonomous, with the company pursuing this goal with business and technical partners and trials currently underway that are set to continue into 2015.
The short video below demonstrates a Robird in flight, demonstrating its striking similarity to the real thing.
Source: Clear Flight Solutions