AsianScientist (Sep. 4, 2018) – An international team of scientists has used unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, to keep birds away from a designated airspace. They published their findings in IEEE Transactions on Robotics.
Bird strikes can threaten the safety of airplanes and their passengers. Bird and other wildlife collisions with aircraft cause over US$1.2 billion in damages to the aviation industry worldwide annually.
Airports and researchers have continued to reduce the risk of bird strikes through a variety of methods. They scare birds away using predators such as falcons, or with loud noises from small cannons or guns. Some airports try to prevent birds from intruding by ridding the surrounding areas of crops that birds forage and hide in.
Taking airspace management to another level is the team led by Professor David Shim Hyunchul of Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), in collaboration with Professor Chung Soon-Jo of Caltech, US, and Professor Aditya Paranjape of Imperial College London, UK. The researchers deployed two drones—a pursuer drone which performed various maneuvers around the flocks of birds, and a surveillance drone which hovered at a high altitude with a camera pointing downwards to record the trajectories of the pursuer drone and the birds.
The team developed a herding algorithm on the basis of macroscopic properties of the flocking model and the response of the flock. They tested their robotic autonomous drone by successfully shepherding an entire flock of birds out of a designated airspace near KAIST’s campus in Daejeon, South Korea.
“It is quite interesting, and even awe-inspiring, to monitor how birds react to threats and collectively behave against threatening objects as a flock. We made careful observations of flock dynamics and interactions between flocks and the pursuer. This allowed us to create a new herding algorithm for ideal flight paths, allowing incoming drones to move the flock away from a protected airspace,” said Shim, who leads the Unmanned Systems Research Group at KAIST.
Shim added that their approach could improve safety for the aviation industry, as well as facilitate the creation of smart airports. He further suggested that the drones and algorithms could help in the control of avian influenza.
The article can be found at: Paranjape et al. (2018) Robotic Herding of a Flock of Birds Using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
Source: Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology; Photo: Pixabay.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.