This Robot Chases Animals Away From Airport Runways

At Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska, a unique approach to wildlife management is taking flight. A four-legged robot, named Aurora, has been deployed to scare away migratory birds and other wildlife from runways.

This headless robot, about the size of a Labrador, is disguised as a coyote or fox, enhancing safety operations. Ryan Marlow, a programme manager at the Alaska Department of Transportation, touched on Aurora’s purpose: “The sole purpose of this is to act as a predator and allow for us to invoke that response in wildlife without having to use other means.”

Aurora, developed by Boston Dynamics and costing around $70,000 (just over £55,000), will patrol the airport every hour, especially during migratory bird seasons. This initiative follows after other methods, like using pigs or drones spraying grape juice, were deemed ineffective or too risky.


Why The Need For Such High-Tech Solutions?


Airports, especially in regions rich in wildlife like Alaska, face the issue of animal strikes. Last year, 92 such incidents were reported in the state, with 10 at Fairbanks alone.

Though most strikes don’t damage aircraft, the risk of a bird being sucked into an engine can lead to catastrophic results. In them simulating predator movements, Aurora wants to prevent these potentially deadly encounters.


How Does Aurora Work?


Aurora’s capabilities are impressive. It can navigate diverse terrains, from climbing rocks to traversing snow. The robot can be remotely controlled or set to operate on an automated schedule.

Its design allows for panel changes, enabling it to mimic a coyote or fox. “Aurora does not utilise Artificial Intelligence (AI), but she does have cutting-edge technology which helps her maneuver over all sorts of terrain,” stated the Alaska Department of Transportation.



The Future of Wildlife Management in Airports


The trial at Fairbanks is a pioneering step in using robotics for wildlife management at airports. If successful, similar robots could be deployed across smaller airports, offering a cost-effective alternative to human wildlife deterrent teams.

On top of this, Aurora’s trial will also gauge responses from larger animals, such as moose and bears, to the robot.


Key Features of Aurora:


  • Mimics predator movements to deter wildlife
  • Operates in diverse weather conditions
  • Remotely controlled for enhanced supervision


Other Inventions By Boston Dynamics


Boston Dynamics has a portfolio of robots designed for a broad range of tasks across different sectors, focusing on inspection, site and facility management, warehouse operations, and safety and response. These robots aim to improve workplace effectiveness, enhance safety, and allow human workers to concentrate on more complex tasks.




Boston Dynamics has introduced Stretch, a robot tailored for automating warehouse tasks such as handling and unloading cases to streamline operations and reduce downtime.

Stretch’s design includes an advanced vision system for identifying boxes and navigating spaces, a custom arm and gripper for efficient manipulation, and the ability to work continuously on a single charge for extended periods, showcasing Boston Dynamics’ commitment to practical and innovative solutions for real-world challenges.


Key Features of Stretch For Warehouse Operations


Navigation Abilities: this robot is engineered to move in confined spaces and around obstacles in warehouses.
Detection Capabilities: it uses a sophisticated vision system for precise box identification.
Handling Proficiency: Stretch features a specially designed arm and gripper for efficient manipulation.
Operational Endurance: it is also capable of functioning through extended periods on a single charge, ensuring uninterrupted operations.


Spot: A Versatile Mobile Robot


Spot exemplifies versatility with its ability to work in and around diverse environments, ensuring the safety of teams and aiding in data-driven decision-making across various industries. Deployed in multiple settings from industrial sites to research facilities, Spot shows off the adaptable nature of Boston Dynamics’ robotic solutions.


Orbit: Simplifying Fleet Management


Orbit software provides an easy-to-use platform for managing a fleet of Boston Dynamics robots, integrating autonomous operations, remote control capabilities, and data analysis within a facility’s layout. This tool offers live tracking of robots, illustrating Boston Dynamics’ vision for seamless integration of robotics into business ecosystems.