Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a robot peregrine falcon designed to reduce the danger of bird strikes at airports
26 / 05 / 2016
Bird strikes represent a huge danger to aircraft when they are taking off and landing, but one German airport is hoping a new robot bird could help solve the problem.
Weeze Niederrhein Airport near Dusseldorf is running tests of a robot bird, known as robird, made and flown by Netherlands-based company Clear Flight Solutions (CFS) to scare off other birds that could cause bird strikes.
Robird comes in two designs: a peregrine falcon and an eagle.
CFS, which is a spin-off from Twente University, said the cost of bird control worldwide runs into the billions and does not consist only of material damage, as birds can also be the cause of fatal accidents.
A common problem is that since birds are clever they quickly get used to existing bird control solutions, and simply fly around them.
Robird gets around this problem by mimicking the flight of a real peregrine falcon.
“The flying behaviour of the Robird is so true to life that birds immediately believe that their natural enemy is present in the area,” the company said.
“Because this approach exploits the birds’ instinctive fear of birds of prey, habituation is not an issue.”
CFS chief executive Nico Nijenhuis said other airports have expressed an interest, but drone regulations could limit the countries where robird can be deployed.
“We already fly our Robirds and drones at many locations, and doing this at an airport for the first time is really significant,” Nijenhuis said.
“Schiphol Airport has been interested for many years now, but Dutch law makes it difficult to test there. The situation is easier in Germany, which is why we are going to Weeze.
“The law in the Netherlands means that this kind of testing is very sensitive. There are major differences with countries like Germany and France.
“It is unfortunate to see that so much activity in the drone sector is being drawn away from the Netherlands. Fortunately, our politicians are starting to understand this.”