A Dutch company is developing bird-scaring drones to protect aircraft from bird-related damage.
Having been awarded €1.6m through the Cottonwood Euro Technology Fund, Clear Flight Solution, a spin-off from the University of Twente, wants to become a leader in ‘robot-based bird control solutions’.
"We have completed a very successful trial at a waste management site in Twente, which is one of the most challenging environments,” said Nico Nijenhuis, CEO of Clear Flight Solutions.
“Currently, we have committed to a number of trial runs and are in discussion across every application area - including one of the leading European airports.”
The company’s bird-like robots would replace the peregrine falcons, currently used at many airports to limit the risk of bird-strikes.
Clear Flight Solutions’ ‘robirds’ are virtually modelled on the peregrine falcon, mimicking its flight to persuade other birds a dangerous predator is in their vicinity.
Relying on natural instincts of the birds that impel them to flee from danger, the approach prevents the animals from learning how to circumvent the measures taken against them.
Bird-strikes and other bird-caused damage costs the aviation industry billions of dollars each year. Birds also create billions of dollars of damage in agriculture, at waste management sites, oil and gas industrial sites and at harbours.
"The bird control problem is much bigger than we initially imagined,” said Ray Quintana, lead general partner of the Cottonwood Euro Technology Fund.
“Clear Flight Solutions has developed technology with tremendous potential that addresses a global problem. We have also identified various other applications of the technology.”
Cottonwood, which provided the funding, is one of the top performing seed/early stage venture capital funds in the United States focusing on regions rich in technology outside Silicon Valley and Boston.
Cottonwood started its activities in Europe in July 2014.