South Korea develops bird strike defense robot
The Korean Atomic Energy Group and LIG Nex1 (an aerospace and defense subsidiary of LG Corp) have jointly developed what they are calling the world's first bird strike defense robot. Birds are a major headache around military air bases and civilian airports all over the world, as they can cause significant damage when they collide with aircraft or get sucked into engines. The robot is a six-wheeled unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that uses a combination of directional acoustics and laser patterns to scare birds away.
The UGV is semi-autonomous, meaning a human operator manages its operations from a control station. The robot is able to avoid obstacles and return to specific locations autonomously, so that even if the station becomes inoperable it won't cause accidents. It measures approximately eight feet (2.5 meters) long and weighs 1.2 tons (1.09 tonnes). It's rigged with a combination of directional acoustic transmission and detection, green laser transmission, day and night color cameras, thermal imaging and laser scanners, and can perform day and night in any weather conditions.
According to KBS news, there have been more than 460 bird strikes over the last five years in South Korea. The designers claim the UGV is 20 percent more effective than other systems at combating the problem. South Korea's Channel A describes the sounds emitted by the UGV as a series of loud pops (100 dB) and up to 13 other sounds (including those based on predators that birds avoid). The cameras are able to track a bird one foot (30.5 cm) in length from 328 yards (300 meters), and at night green laser patterns that can travel up to 1.2 miles (2 km) are used to frighten them away. Up to four UGVs can be monitored and controlled per station.
The project was announced in 2009, and in late 2011 the first field trials took place at a South Korean military air base. Now the system is being rolled out in multiple airfields, with the intent of proving its capabilities to international buyers. The technology developed for this UGV may also be transferred to unmanned landmine detection systems, combat vehicles, and supply vehicles.