One of the most widely-overlooked species of pesky animals that the majority of the public might not realize come from the avian variety. Several species of birds are still considered to be nuisances at farms, who have used techniques over the years like scarecrows, sound blasts, and even hiring falconers to keep their crops safe.
Nowadays, birds are still recognized as pesky intrusive animals at larger operations like airports and landfills. It was about eight years ago when a flock of geese caused a crash landing in the Hudson River. Birds that gather and feed at landfills can spread garbage and even disease beyond the landfill in some cases.
Based in the Netherlands, Clear Flight Solutions has developed a drone model that could potentially play a future key role in deterring large numbers of pesky avian species. Their model is called the “robird,” a remote-controlled drone that resembles a species of raptor by appearance and even how it flies.
The robird is designed to do just that – mimic predatory birds. It comes in two models – peregrine falcon and bald eagle. The robird flies just as a bird does by flapping its wings, and steers using its two tail fins. Just like normal raptors do, the robird is even capable of gliding through the air for limited periods of time.
“The theory is simple,” says Wessel Straatman, one of the engineers that designed the robird. “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.”
Instead of hiring highly-skilled falconers that need to train and nurture their birds of prey to keep flocks of pesky bird species at bay, airports, farmers, and landfill owners can soon hire companies like Clear Flight Solutions, which aims to one day develop fleets of robirds that can operate autonomously. This method is more practical considering how it would take less time to manufacture these drones than to train flocks of falcons at doing the same task.
It’s also worth mentioning how these 3D-printed drones are easily assembled by hand. The robird has been a work in progress for 15 years, and has undergone all of its development and trial testing in the Netherlands. While this drone won’t be publically available, its services will be offered to the aforementioned businesses for the purpose of thwarting pesky bird species.
“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,” says Clear Flight Solutions Operations Manager Robert Jonker. “We think we are ready to scale and we already have a lot of interest from military and international civil airports here in the US.”
While Clear Flight Solutions hasn’t released any information regarding pricing for their services, hopes are high that robirds can become available to the institutions previously mentioned later in 2017.