Captain Sully’s miraculous landing on the Hudson might be the most famous example of birds interfering with commercial flights, but it’s far from the only one. Between 1990 and 2008, 15 people died because of plane collisions with birds, and every year such collisions cause $1.2 billion in damage internationally, according to coverage by The Daily Beast. Now, researchers at CalTech are developing an algorithm-based bird drone that may be able to drive birds away from planes.
The problems the researchers hope to tackle have to do with the complicated manners in which birds fly. Flocks have distinct, complicated systems, and generally don’t have centralized communication. Though flocks do act predictably with enough study, if a plane gets too close, the birds can scatter, providing the worst-case scenario for pilots.
The drone uses camera footage and what The Daily Beast refers to as “sophisticated avian radar data.” Its purpose is to steer the birds away from planes by flying close enough that it encourages the birds to steer clear, but not so close that the birds scatter. Though the technology is still in its early days, it holds incredible promise for the future of airplane safety.
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