Robotic bird-scaring technology for airports has now gone into operation at a major North American site.
Normally, airports and birds don’t mix too well at all. Besides the omnipresent bird strike risk – and the financial/logistical impact this carries – there’s a material damage aspect too, the cost of which can reach billions per annum.
Standard airport bird control approaches include lasers, noise cannons, specialised pyrotechnics and more but birds have gradually got wise to these. Against that backdrop, technology has emerged from the Netherlands that could make a massive difference. Developed at the Netherlands’ University of Twente, ‘Robird’ has since been commercialised by university spinoff Clear Flight Solutions and now brought to Edmonton International Airport (EIA) by Calgary firm Aerium Analytics.
Airport Robird Trial
The so-called ‘Robird’ looks like a falcon and flies like a falcon but the difference is, it’s remotely-operated. It ‘flies’ by flapping its wings, just as does the real bird and these wings generate enough power to take it up to 50 mph. So far as other birds are concerned, Robird resembles its real-life counterpart enough to put them off being around it. That’s sufficient deterrent to keep vital operational liveside areas – such as those at Edmonton – clear of them.
The Edmonton airport Robird trial gets underway next month. It’ll be the first time that the remotely-controlled bird’s become part of day-to-day airport operations. Just how good a bird-scarer is Robird? That’ll be explored at Edmonton over the coming 12 weeks. Its deployment at EIA is part of a wider robotic technology programme there also involving wildlife-observing, infrastructure-inspecting and 3D-measuring systems.
‘This is a historic step for the Robird and our company”, comments Clear Flight Solutions’ CEO, Nico Nijenhuis. He continues: “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.”
EIA lies further North than does any other major North American airport. Handling around eight million passengers a year, it’s Canada’s fifth-busiest. Edmonton passenger traffic has, in fact, increased more than 100 per cent over the past decade. Currently, 17 carriers use the site, between them serving around 60 other airports.
Robird image copyright/courtesy Clear Flight Solutions
EIA image copyright/courtesy Aerium Analytics/Clear Flight Solutions