(ORDO NEWS) — Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are gradually becoming something familiar and even everyday. Now drones, in conjunction with automatic cameras, have also been successfully used to drive pest birds out of vineyards.
Drones (controlled aircraft that do not need a person on board to fly) have been actively used for only ten years. During this time, they have gained immense popularity and found a variety of applications.
This includes the delivery of parcels, and amateur or engineering photography, the study of landscapes, wildlife – the list goes on. And most importantly, it is constantly replenished.
Now, an article by the staff of the University of Washington (USA) in the journal Computer and Electronics in Agriculture describes a system designed to combat pest birds in vineyards.
It is assumed that the innovation will be able to vigilantly monitor around the clock that crows, starlings and other unwanted birds do not penetrate to fruit crops and do not eat them. The entire structure must be completely without human intervention.
“Currently, growers don’t have any good tool that effectively repels harmful birds and doesn’t cost too much,” said Manoj Karkee, one of the authors. “After some tweaks and with the cooperation of industry representatives, this system may well work.”
For drones to become an effective scarecrow, two problems must be solved. Firstly, to recognize incoming birds, and secondly, to automatically lift drones into the air and control them.
Within a few years, Karki and his colleagues were able to develop a system of cameras and algorithms that controlled them, able to notice the birds arriving and leaving the field , and thus quite literally count the crows.
The specialists also modified small drones and taught them to chase birds in a small area of the field. As a result, pests became four times less.
Technically, the system is very similar to automated parcel delivery. The authors hope that after a few years, anyone will be able to purchase their installations. And before that, there will be a lot of flight and field tests and legal issues to be resolved.
“Birds are actually smart creatures,” Karki says. “Often they learn to bypass such repellent installations. We would not want our system to last only a few months before the pests stop being afraid of it.
In its modern form, drones scare crows with their appearance and the noise of propellers. However, in the future, experts plan to give them the form of predators and the ability to make the appropriate “shouts” or, for example, make drones brightly shining with a metallic sheen.
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