First there were electronic sheepdogs. Now flapping robotic drones disguised as birds of prey could act as another form of futuristic farming device, thanks to a Dutch inventor and his flying machine. The two models being developed might confuse birdwatchers from a distance as they are designed to resemble a peregrine falcon and a bald eagle, but are made of a lightweight and rugged glass fibre nylon composite.
The remote-controlled, battery-powered invention, known as the Robird, has been designed as a kind of flying scarecrow to scare real birds away from places like airports, farms and landfills where they cause a nuisance. Farmers could soon be going very hi-tech, following reports this week of an experiment involving GPS tracking of sheepdogs to discover how they herd their flocks, research which could feasibly lead to robotic replacements.
The man behind the new flying machine is 27-year-old Nico Nijenhuis, who became interested in robotic birds after asking his advisor for ideas when he was trying to come up with an topic for his master’s thesis at the Technical University of Twente in the east of Holland.