News / Edmonton

In world first, robot birds take flight at Edmonton airport

The robird is the first bird drone in the world to operate on a daily basis for commercial operations at an airport.

Robird is a remote-controlled robot designed to help keep birds away from the airport.

Courtesy clearflightsolutions.com

Robird is a remote-controlled robot designed to help keep birds away from the airport.

It’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s a bird that helps planes when they fly in the face of danger – quite literally.

The robird officially spread its wings at Edmonton International Airport for a demonstration Monday, as part of a pilot project to keep birds out of the flight paths of larger planes. Birds can be a safety hazard for flights and also cause significant damage when they collide with aircrafts.

Officials say it's the first time in the world a robird will be integrated into day to day commercial operations at an airport.

The robotic fake falcon was manufactured by Dutch company Clearflight Solutions and will be operated by Alberta-based AERIUM Analytics, who programmed the robird and will be flying it.

“It flaps its wings, it flies just like a bird and looks just like a falcon in the sky … the whole premise behind it is to get rid of birds in areas where they shouldn’t be,” said Jordan Cicoria, AERIUM's managing director.

The robird is modeled after a peregrine falcon - the fastest predator in the world – which reach speeds of up to 320 km/h.

Cicoria said they need to operate the robird on a daily basis because other birds will return to an area if they believe the bird of prey has left.

“You need to have that consistent presence in order to keep birds from flying in front of planes … you’re tying into that bird’s instincts to get the heck away from danger,” Cicoria said.

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Myron Keehn, EIA’s vice president of commercial development, said the pilot project will officially start operating on July 1 for 13 weeks.

“We’re just proud to be able to work with an Alberta company, bringing this international technology … and launching it at EIA the first of anywhere in the world.”

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