A new drone that looks and operates just like a bird is being used to increase aviation safety by scaring away real-life birds from commercial airliners and other aircraft.
Clear Flight Solutions, a young company in the Netherlands that specializes in bird control and industrial inspections, has created the Robird, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that can flap its wings and simulate a real bird of prey.
Falconry is utilized at airports to limit the chances of birds and planes colliding into each other.
But the Robird could be as effective as a real bird — without the need for feeding and high maintenance.
“The theory is simple. 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,” Wessel Straatman, one of the engineers of the product, told TechCrunch. “As a result, they’ll avoid it, solving the problem for a period of time.”
Operators can control the drone to mimic a bird of prey, including typical hunting tactics and flight patterns.
“We can actually drive birds in the direction we want, much like a sheep dog can be used to control sheep. It works incredibly well,” Robert Jonker, the company’s operations manager, told TechCrunch.
The Robird, at least for now, is being sold as a service, not a product. (RELATED: 65-Year-Old Woman Obliterates Drone Hovering Over Her Property)
“We think we are ready to scale and we already have a lot of interest from military and international civil airports here in the U.S.,” Jonker continued.
Birds and airplanes strike each other on an almost daily basis, but usually without causing any major damage or disruption to the aircraft, according to ABC News, which cites John Ostrom chairman of the Bird Strike Committee USA. (RELATED: Now You Can Take Down Drones Without Using A Shotgun)
On Jan. 15, 2009, a commercial plane holding 150 passengers struck a flock of Canada geese only minutes after take off. The engine entirely failed, but the two pilots were able to land the aircraft in the middle of the Hudson River. Every single person aboard survived the ordeal with very little problems. The “Miracle on the Hudson” became so famous that a movie based on an autobiography of one of the pilots, Chesley Sullenberger, was released in September.
Ostrom says that more than 200 people have been killed since 1988 due to airborne collisions with birds.
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