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Alaska Airport Comes Up With Unique Way To Save Animals From Being Hit By Planes

Image shows an airplane taking off with a flock of migratory birds flying near it.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is entering the mainstream of everyday existence. Sometimes, the results aren’t great, but some innovations are making tremendous strides to improve safety. Alaskan Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) uses a robot dog named Aurora as a wildlife deterrent at Fairbanks International Airport (FIA).

Aurora was created by Boston Dynamics and will become part of the airport staff. Although Aurora can operate autonomously, a human will always accompany the robot during its patrol duties. Aurora does not use AI but has “cutting-edge technology” to help it navigate the rugged terrain.

Left image shows the Aurora robot dog. Right image shows the dog traversing rugged terrain.
Images from Instagram.

The most significant use of Aurora will be as a deterrent for migratory birds. Keeping the birds from nesting near runways and taxiways in the airport will increase safety. The robot dog can operate with its “naked” appearance or disguised as a fox, wolf, or another predator to deter bird nesting. The robot will also be instrumental in keeping land-bound animals from causing safety problems during landing or take-off.

The Aurora robot has a custom-designed “skin” that resembles the beauty of the Aurora Borealis (northern lights). Andrea Deppner, an in-house graphic artist, created the design (pictured below).

Left image shows the custom "skin" design of the Aurora robot employed at Fairbanks International Airport. Right image shows the robot with the creator of the custom "skin," Andrea Deppner.
Images from Instagram.

Aurora will spend most of its time at Fairbanks but may also provide essential airport safety duties at remote airports. The robot dog was funded by a Federal Research Grant. If the Aurora robot successfully prevents airplane-bird mishaps, the project will expand.

This robot dog model has gone through many phases during testing at Boston Dynamics to reach this point. While the Aurora robot is not AI, the potential for this feature is probably under consideration. They won’t be taking over the world yet, but keeping us safe for now is good.

You can find the source of this story’s featured image here.

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