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Robots to be deployed in airfields to drive out birds

Posted February. 08, 2012 02:32,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00

한국어

○ Emit green laser and generates hawk sounds

Bird strike is a source of distress for military airports. A bird might seem to have a little impact on a combat plane, but should not be taken lightly.

For instance, if a mallard weighing 900 grams crashes into a fighter flying 370 kilometers per hour, the impact is equivalent to 4.8 tons. If the bird is sucked into the engine, the plane can crash and claim the lives of pilots. Because of this, driving birds out of an airfield is a prerequisite for air training. In one exercise, more than 10 F-16 fighters took off and birds were being driven out whenever a fighter took off.

A bird eradication robot is 2.5 meters tall and weighs 1.4 tons. A round speaker on its head makes a popping sound of 100 decibels and travels as far as 300 kilometers. Along with gunfire and a cannon roar, the robot creates a bird`s sound to capitalize on the nature of birds escaping when hearing the sound of their natural enemies. Upon hearing the loud sound of hawks, a flock of mallards hurriedly left the airfield. The robot can mix 13 kinds of sounds in a number of ways.

It also has a laser next to the speaker. When a flock of birds appeared 1 to 2 kilometers from the robot, the laser emitted a green light. If birds see the laser light, they feel threatened and avoid the laser by mistaking it for a stick. When the green light was emitted, they rapidly flew away.

The robot has two cameras next to the speaker and laser as well. As soon as a bird about 30 meters long appeared 300 meters from the robot, the cameras automatically captured the bird, moved along the bird, and traced it until it disappeared from their view. One of the cameras is a thermal imager, which operates even at night.

○ Pilot operations from June

The best feature of the robot is the ability to follow birds for itself. Kim Chang-hoe, a senior researcher at the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute who is in charge of the robot`s development, said, “This is the world’s first bird eradicating robot that operates by itself.”

The robot can be controlled from a control tower, runs on electric batteries, and mainly operates near an airfield. It can run for eight hours at 50 kilometers per hour on one charge and up to 30 kilometers per hour in the bushes. If a bird lands in the bushes near the airstrip to prey on grasshoppers, the robot charges the bird in a zigzag fashion to drive it out.

The technology used in nuclear reactors has been applied to the robot. Since a nuclear reactor releases radioactive materials, a robot is dispatched to repair the reactor. Reactors are also controlled remotely, and the anti-bird robot has adopted such technologies. Kim said, “Safe technologies have been also applied to prevent the robot from entering the airstrip even in case of a breakdown to avoid crashing into a fighter.”

The test results so far have been successful. The bird eradication rate of the Korean robot is 60 percent, while that of a French laser eradication system, which has been known to be the most effective, is 40 percent.

A source from the Korean Air Force said, “Soldiers shoot blanks to drive out birds even if the weather is extremely cold or hot,” adding, “If the bird eradication robot is introduced, this will reduce the burden of soldiers and drive birds away more effectively.”

With the robot’s excellence spreading through word of mouth, several airfields of the Korean Air Force have requested to test the robot. The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute has been testing the robot in an airfield in Wonju, Gangwon Province since last month, and another test will begin in Suwon in March. The Air Force will deploy the robot on a trial basis as soon as tests are completed in June.



uneasy75@donga.com