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Dog-sized headless robot to patrol Alaska airport to avoid bird collisions

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A headless robot the size of a Labrador will be camouflaged as a coyote to ward off migratory birds and other wildlife at Alaska’s second-largest airport.

THE Alaska The Department of Transportation and Public Facilities said it would be based at Fairbanks Airport to “improve and increase safety and operations.”

Footage has been released showing the robot – named Aurora – climbing rocks, climbing stairs and doing something akin to dancing while flashing green lights.

These dance skills will be put to good use during migratory bird season, when Aurora will mimic the movements of predators to prevent birds and other wildlife from settling near the aircraft fields.

A robotic dog from the Alaska Department of Transportation walks through the snow in Anchorage, Alaska, March 26, 2024. The device will be camouflaged as a coyote or fox to ward off migratory birds and other wildlife at the second largest Alaska Airport, Says POINT.  (Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP)
Picture:
Photo: Marc Lester/Anchorage Daily News via AP

Ryan Marlow, program manager at the Department of Transport, said: “The whole point is to act like a predator and allow us to invoke that response in wildlife without having to use other means. »

The plan is to have Aurora patrol an outdoor area near the runway every hour to try to avoid harmful encounters between planes and wildlife.

It can be disguised as a coyote or fox by changing the replaceable panels.

The idea of ​​using a robot came after authorities rejected a plan to use flying drones spraying a repellent including grape juice.

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Previous deterrence efforts have included releasing pigs into a lake near the Anchorage airport in the 1990s, in the hopes that they would eat waterfowl eggs near plane landing zones.

The testing period in Fairbanks will also determine how effective an Aurora deterrent would be with larger animals and see how moose and bears would react to the robot.

Last year, there were 92 animal collisions near Alaska airports, including 10 in Fairbanks, according to a Federal Aviation Administration database.

Most strikes have caused no damage to the aircraft, but Marlow said encounters can be costly and dangerous in the rare cases where a bird is sucked into an engine, potentially causing an accident.

An AWACS plane crashed in 1995 when it struck a flock of geese, killing 24 people at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage.

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