Q: How does RoBird® work?
A: RoBird® is an ornithopter, and achieves lift and propulsion by flapping its wings and steering with tail flaps. When in full throttle, an observer or secondary pilot launches, and the pilot remotely operates it on the ground. A skilled pilot will maneuver the RoBird to aggressively chase birds away from a problematic location. He can also direct (vector) flocks in any desired direction – effectively ‘herding’ them to safety. It is the combination of flying technique and the silhouette of the apparent predator that make it successful at bird hazing.
Q: Why use a peregrine falcon design for RoBird®, and can I request different species?
A: Our engineers chose the peregrine falcon design because the falcon is a predator that hunts birds from higher altitudes in open areas, like airports. Other predators like buzzards or hawks hunt lower to the ground for rodents, and therefore pose a much lower threat to birds. They also chose the design because falcons are the most widely recognized bird of prey on earth. There are different varieties of the raptor on every continent. This feature makes it versatile enough to conduct operations anywhere. They are also the most agile and fastest animal in the world, with an average diving speed of 320 kph (200 mph).
These characteristics strike fear into prey. Additionally, the shape and size of the animal also lends itself to engineering more than larger designs. Although the company produces other models, like the eagle, they are not practical for use in daily wildlife management. Due to the increased size and weight, the larger model requires more battery power. This limitation results in a reduction in flight time, and ability to haze birds is limited. However, other species can be created upon special request depending on size and shape.
Q: How do you know RoBird® is effective, and do birds habituate to it?
A: Over the course of several years, RoBird® and partners have tracked bird populations and bird strikes on each project. This allows us to see how populations have changed over time, and gauge reactions of different species in different activities. Data indicates that RoBird® is highly effective in the majority of cases, and birds do not habituate to it. This overwhelmingly positive effect is likely due to the randomized, erratic, and aggressive nature of ‘hunting’ techniques pilots perform. An ongoing probe also confirms the effectiveness of RoBird®.
Q: Does RoBird® work on large bird species and other birds of prey?
A: Larger species of bird, such as turkey vultures, Canada geese, cormorants, and pelicans, will react when confronted with RoBird. They will startle and subsequently leave the area. In numerous instances, the field team was able to intercept flocks of Canada geese mid-flight. They break up the group, and redirect the geese away from active runways. Turkey vultures reacted in probes, and cormorants and pelicans were also scared away in other projects. Other birds of prey, like hawks, red kites, and falcons, exhibit agitation by the presence of another predator in their area. They tend to approach the peceived predator in their territory, and afterward leave the area. RoBird can even ‘lure’ them away.
Q: Why use RoBird® as opposed to traditional falconry?
A: Like any bird hazing tool, falconry can be effective, but has some limitations. The benefit of RoBird® as opposed to traditional falconry is that it is completely controlled. It can also target specific birds and direct flocks. RoBird® flies all day, as many times as desired, and does not need to stop and rest. There is no animal training or feeding. However, RoBird® supports cooperation with falconers and other hazing methods to reinforce long-term effectiveness.
Q: What are the specifications of the RoBird®?
A: The RoBird® is 1 m in length and weighs 750-800 grams. Our engineers make the body out of plastic composite, and its wings of a foam composite. It fies in temperatures as low as 0°C (32°F), for up to 15 minutes. However, a flight will only last 2-4 minutes, as birds will typically be completely gone by that point. The RoBird can fly against up to 20 kts winds with 25 kts gusts and very mild precipitation. Although it can fly up to 4 km away, pilots do not fly beyond line of sight.
Q: How much area can one RoBird® cover?
A: Although RoBird is capable of flying several kilometers away, pilots never fly beyond line of sight under any circumstances. The maximum distance is typically about 300 m away from the pilot. As birds have excellent eye sight, the effect can be up to 1,000 m or more away. During operations pilots work in one location at a time, covering multiple locations throughout the day. The aircraft is battery powered and can complete multiple flights per location if necessary. Pilots keep several fully charged batteries on hand while working and recharge them while in the field.
Q: Is RoBird® autonomous, and does it have sensors or cameras?
A: RoBird® currently must be remotely piloted from a person on the ground. Our expert R&D Engineers are working toward autonomy within the next few years. Contrary to popular assumption, it also does not contain any sensors or cameras, and is only used for bird hazing in wildlife management operations.
Q: How Much Does RoBird® Cost?
A: RoBird® units are for sale or lease. The company either provides their own pilots to perform the service, or leases two birds to a time to an organization, which includes a maintenance fee. Completion of a training course is also encouraged. The cost depends on the individual needs of the organization, who can request a free quote if qualified.
Q: Why is RoBird® training important?
A: RoBird® can be challenging to maneuver, especially in difficult weather conditions. Those who go through training not only learn how to operate the remote and fly safely, but also how to perform core maintenance and calibration. These are crucial skills a pilot must have in order to not have flying accidents and resolve basic mechanical issues and repair parts independently.
Q: Is RoBird® safe?
A: RoBird® can only be flown in locations where it is safe and legal to do so. This means an acceptable area to fly has ample space for turning maneuvers, little or no human or large animal presence, with buildings, powerlines, and other obstructions at a distance. Pilots work with resident wildlife specialists, USDA, Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Control, and other stakeholders to ensure safety. All pilots are fully trained, licensed, and authorized to fly in the project area. The unit itself is also equipped with failsafes which prevent it from presenting a risk to manned aviation and others, including a preprogrammed geofence, return to home and return to launch functions, and a kill switch. Units are inspected for safety before each flight, and pilots only fly if they are physically and mentally capable.
Q: Can I use RoBird® in film, television, and performances?
A: RoBird® is primarily a wildlife management tool, but it has also been used in film, commercials, and large productions. Depending on the size of the size of the flight area, weather conditions, and tasks the pilot must complete with the aircraft, RoBird® can be used for performance purposes. However, the project requires a thorough assessment by the RoBird management team.
Q: Where Do we Use RoBird®?
A: RoBird® flies on projects and demos in the UK, France, Germany, UAE, South Korea, China, India, Kazakhstan, the US, Mexico, Canada, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.