Drones may be used to guide birds away for flight safety

Airports are always a heaven for birds. Thanks to its expansive stretch of land. But their presence poses a risk for airplanes that land or take off. Bird hit is a nightmare a pilot wishes to never experience.

Bird strikes threaten the safety of airplanes and their passengers. Reports reveal that aircraft in Korea have suffered more than 1,000 bird strikes between 2011 and 2016.

In the US, 142,000 bird strikes destroyed 62 civilian airplanes while in the UK in 2016, there were 1,835 confirmed bird strikes. Likewise, several Indian flights also face bird-hit scenarios throughout the year.

Reports shows that such bird or any other wildlife collision with airplanes will cause a loss of over $ 1.2 billion in damage to the aviation industry worldwide annually.

Keeping this in mind, scientists and researchers from California Institute of Technology in the US and Imperial College London in the UK analysed how to divert a flock of birds away from a particular area - like perhaps an airport - using an unmanned aerial vehicle. They have developed an algorithm that enables drones to herd a flock of birds away from a designated place without breaking their formation.

Representative image of a drone.

The algorithm was developed based on the responses of the flock and on the basis of macroscopic properties of the flocking model. In South Korea, scientists tested the drone and were successful in shepherding an entire flock of birds out of a designated airspace.

Professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) David Hyunchul Shim was reported as saying that it was interesting to monitor how birds reacted to threats and collectively behave against threatening objects through the flock. He also added that they had carefully observed flock dynamics and their interactions with pursuers.

This had enabled them to create a new herding algorithm for ideal flight paths for incoming drones to move the flock away from a protected airspace.

Scientists are hopeful that this algorithm will improve the safety for the aviation industry.


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