Birds are bad news for airports. As well as the risk of a "bird-strike" downing a plane, they cause material damage estimated to run into billions of pounds a year.
To control the populations of birds, airports use pyrotechnics, sound cannons, lasers and other technological systems. But birds get used to them over time and learn to fly around them.
That's why roboticists from the University of Twente have developed a lifelike robotic bird that will patrol the landing strip, scaring real birds away at Edmonton International Airport in Canada.
The bot, which has been codenamed "Robird", mimics the appearance and flight of a falcon. It's the creation of Clear Flight Solutions - a spin-off company from the University - which collaborated on a Canadian drone services firm called Aerium for the project.
Robird is part of a large-scale drone project at Edmonton, which will not only keep planes safe but also observe wildlife, inspect buildings and take 3D measurements. For three months, Robird's effectiveness at scaring away birds will be carefully monitored.
‘This is a historic step for the Robird and our company,’ says Nico Nijenhuis, the CEO of Clear Flight Solutions.
“We currently operate our Robirds in a variety of places, but taking the step towards full integration within daily operations at an airport is huge. For years, there has been a lot of interest from airports. To now officially start integrating our operations at a major Canadian airport is absolutely fantastic.”