The Edmonton International Airport will soon be using robotic falcons and eagles to chase away pesky flyers who don't have tickets.
On Tuesday, the airport announced that it will be the first in the world to be using drones called Robirds to discourage real birds from flying and nesting near flight paths. The robotic birds of prey will be incorporated as part of the airport's daily operations.
These Robirds come from Clear Flight Solutions and AERIUM Analytics, which will provide unmanned aerial system mapping and inspection services, too.
"This is truly a historic moment for our company but especially for the entire aviation industry," said Nico Nijenhuis, CEO of Clear Flight Solutions, in a press release. "To now officially start integrating our operations at a major Canadian airport is absolutely fantastic."
As to why Edmonton's airport has decided to use drones as a sort of roboticized scarecrow, Tim Bibby, the managing director or AERIUM Analytics, said that airports have requirements for wildlife management programs (including bird control) set out by Transport Canada, a federal agency. Robird is the next generation of that, said Bibby in a phone interview.
He acknowledged that drones around airports are perceived as a risk, but Robird has built-in measures to ensure that safety is a top priority.
"There are fail-safes within the units," he said. These include geofencing, a return-to-home option, and the fact that the birds never fly across a runway, but in figure-eight patterns nearby.
The Robirds aren't autonomous. Pilots who will be flying the birdies have already been selected, but Bibby said they'll be hiring more.
Bibby said there is no specific date as to when the Robird will take flight because they don't want to rush into anything. But if you find yourself flying in or out of Edmonton sometime in the near future, you may see a robotic army of raptors in the sky.
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