Ornithopter is the name for aircraft that flies by flapping its wings. Such aircraft is by no means a modern concept – Leonardo da Vinci is known to have drawn an ornithopter – but with the exception of experimental designs, no model capable of flying has ever been developed.
Until now, that is, with Dutch company Clear Flight Solutions’ unveiling of its “Robird”, an ornithopter drone that looks like a bird of prey, and flies like one too. The drone is to be tested at Canada’s Edmonton International Airport in the coming weeks, where its job will be to scare away birds in a bid to reduce the number of collisions with aircraft. The airport authority hopes that other birds will think that Robird is a real bird of prey that has claimed the airport as its territory and then fly off to other areas.
According to a report in Ulm’s Südwest Presse newspaper , it is in particular larger birds, such as various species of birds of prey, geese, and – depending on the airport’s location – waterfowl, such as gulls, that cause airports problems. Optical and acoustic signals are the main aids currently used to attempt to chase birds away.