Jan. 15 - Researchers in South Korea have developed a high-tech robot to combat birds at airports. Armed with an array of detection and tracking systems, the mobile system uses high powered lasers and gunshot sounds to scare birds clear of airport runways. Ben Gruber reports.
This robot is the latest weapon in the war on birds. Developed by Kim Chang-Hwoi and his team in South Korea, it's armed with technology designed to put the fear of death into birds that fly too close to airport runways. According to the International Civil Aviation Organization, bird strikes account for more than a billion dollars in airplane damage every year. Three years ago, a US airlines flight with 150 people on board was forced to land on the Hudson River in New York after hitting a flock of Canadian geese and damaging both engines. Airports already deploy bird strike technology, But Kim says his robot is more effective because its mobile... giving it the ability to charge at birds while blasting them with scary sounds. (SOUNDBITE) DR. KIM CHANG-HWOI, PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER OF KOREA ATOMIC ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (KAERI), SAYING: "Other bird expellant equipment is fixed at a certain place, so birds get used to hearing the noise and learn that it does them no harm. However, our robot threatens birds and transmits sounds while rushing toward them. During the test, we discovered the robot is approximately 20% more effective than other systems." The robot is semi-autonomous, using its built-in microphones and cameras to scan for birds. This surveillance data is transmitted to a control station where and operator can order the robot to attack birds that pose a risk to planes. SOUNDBITE) (Korean) DR. KIM CHANG-HWOI, PRINCIPAL RESEARCHER OF KOREA ATOMIC ENERGY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (KAERI), SAYING: "It detects birds by listening to birds' sounds with a microphone and monitoring their movements with cameras. And then, at night time the robot beams lasers and transmits harsh sounds toward the birds during the day to drive them out." If the gunshots sounds and the calls of predatory enemies don't do the job, the robot uses its laser weapon to shoot beams of radiation at the birds, a tactic, Kim says disturbs them and forces them into flight. Kim and his team have filed for an International patent for the technology, and he says he hopes his robots can be deployed at airports around the world next year, to do 'battle with the birds'.