It’s a bird, it’s a robot, it’s the Robird! Most of us can imagine an occasion where scaring off a flock of birds could be really helpful. I mean, that’s what the old-fashioned scarecrow is designed to do, isn’t it? Well, a more high tech version of the scarecrow can also help you, and the “Robird,” designed by Dutch company Clear Flight Solutions and 3D printed by Materialise, is here to prove it. These Robirds can be used at airports, orchards, fields, and waste sites to scare away the real and much peskier birds.
One look at a Robird and you can see exactly why it would work so well. A Materialise blog post about these robot birds explains how 3D printing facilitates an organic design authentic enough to look like a real bird in flight. This is especially important since birds can damage airplanes, ruin crops, and spread disease:
“The flexibility afforded by Additive Manufacturing allowed the designers at CFS to produce the beautiful, organic shapes required to make the Robird as realistic as possible. It also gave the designers the freedom to continuously make alterations to the design of their birds, and expand upon the different types of birds they produce.”
Robirds propel themselves by flapping their wings, with a flight performance comparable to real birds. They are laser sintered in glass-filled polyamide, with all necessary fixation points for mechanical components 3D printed directly inside the body. Eventually, the goal is to eliminate the need for humans to operate these birds at all. Robbert de Vries from Clear Flight Solutions explains that not only does 3D printing allow for such customized and authentic design, but it also helps with expense, production time, and higher quality products:
“By eliminating the manual assembly we did before and being able to perform rapid design changes, we save a great deal of time and money. Thanks to the expert advice from Materialise we are now creating better products.”
Clear Flight Solutions also knows that these birds are working, doing what they were designed to do, because the company tests them out routinely at Twence Waste & Energy in the Netherlands. Clear Flight Solutions, which began developing the Robirds back in 2014, is also planning to test them at European airports by the end of 2016.
The concrete need to avoid damage caused by birds will likely drive the success of this endeavor. After all, birds cause tens of millions of dollars of damage every year in the US alone. Machinery, automobiles, roofs, ventilation systems, buildings and many other structures can be compromised or destroyed by bird droppings and nesting materials.
Check out the below video, and these other related videos, to witness for yourself these incredible little flying robots in action! What do you think about these birds? Discuss in the 3D Printed Robirds forum over at 3DPB.com.