Robotic falcons to scare away real birds at Edmonton airport

Robotic falcons to scare away real birds at Edmonton airport

May 11, 2017 News by Gary Searing

Netherlands-based company says using robot falcons to chase real birds from flight paths 'historic'

Edmonton International Airport will soon become one of the first airports in the world to use robotic falcons to chase birds from flight paths and discourage nearby nesting.

"EIA is excited to trial this new technology," said Steve Rumley, the airport's vice-president of infrastructure.

Netherlands-based Clear Flight Solutions, which manufacture the drones, said the flight behaviour of the birds is "so indistinguishable from its natural counterpart that other birds believe that their natural enemy is present in the area."

The program will be run in Alberta by Calgary-based Aerium Analytics using specially trained pilots, managing director Jordan Cicoria told The Calgary Eyeopener.

It is a drone, but the robotic bird will flap its wings to achieve flight and look much like an actual falcon.

"It looks very much like an actual bird of prey as it flies," he said. "Not only the colouring, but more importantly the silhouette. Most birds can recognize that silhouette rather quickly and immediately identify it as its natural predator."

The airport said it will make sure the robo-birds are used safely.

The company said it uses the robots for a variety of purposes, but integrating them within daily operations at an airport is a first. 

"This is truly a historic moment for our company but especially for the entire aviation industry," CEO Nico Nijenhuis said in a news release Tuesday.

Airport promises safety

"For years, there has been a lot of interest from airports. To now officially start integrating our operations at a major Canadian airport is absolutely fantastic."

The airport said it has always been an early adopter of new technologies and will make sure the "robirds" are used safely.

"We will ensure that all of the airports regulatory requirements are met as part of our safety management system … to ensure that the testing is completed in a safe manner," Rumley said.