New Robotic Falcon Scares Birds Out of the Way of Planes

Making the skies even friendlier.

Dec 11, 2022
New Robotic Falcon Scares Birds Out of the Way of Planes | Making the skies even friendlier.

Mankind has always been interested in taking to the skies and flying as free as the birds. Now people can travel on airplanes that soar in the air, usually above the birds. But sometimes not. .Birds have been a problem for airplanes since the beginning of aviation. According to CNN, collisions between birds and airplanes kill over 10,000 birds a year and endanger airplanes. But now there is a solution.

A team of researchers from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands recently premiered a new robotic drone, the RobotFalcon, in the shape of a Peregrine falcon. In flight, the drone mimics the flight patterns of the falcon, clearing runway-adjacent fields of birds. This keeps both the birds and flying people safe. 

Bird Deterrents
Before the RobotFalcon,, the main tools used to deter birds from hanging around runways range from using real live falcons, to auditory deterrents including the sound of dogs or  birds in distress, according to  the Dutch study that was published in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface. Scarecrows have also been used to chase away the birds.The problem with these deterrents is that many  are not very efficient. Hence the need for a new and improved method

“There is a need for novel methods to deter birds,”  the authors wrote in the study; “and we show that the RobotFalcon can make a major contribution to filling that niche.”

When tested on 54 different flocks, the RobotFalcon was able to fully clear all the birds within 5 minutes, while a standard drone could only clear 80 percent of 56 flocks in the same amount of time, reported New Scientist. Though it doesn’t seem like such a huge difference, 20 percent  is still a large percentage when lives are on the line. 

The RobotFalcon
The RobotFalcon, reported CNN, was created by Rolf Storms, MSc, a PhD student at the University of Groningen and one of the authors of the Dutch study. It is made of fiberglass and Expanded Polypropylene (EPP) and has a wingspan of 70 centimeters. It is controlled from the ground, and is fitted with a camera so that the controller can see what the falcon sees. 

There are, however, some kinks in the system before the RobotFalcon can be used on a large scale, according to New Scientist. For one, it still needs to be operated by a person which requires the use of manpower. In addition, the current prototype can only stay in the air for 15 minutes, which limits its usefulness.

Still, the next time you fly, you might just have RobotFalcon to thank for keeping you safe in the air.

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Tiki is a freelance writer, editor, and translator with a passion for writing stories. She believes in taking small actions to positively impact the world. She spends her free time reading, baking, creating art, and walking her rescue dog.