Dog-like Spot robot gets a gig to scare wildlife

Spot, a robot dog.
Boston Dynamics / Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics’ dog-like Spot robot is an incredibly agile machine that for the last four years has been available for various industries to try out as a robotic work colleague.

Spot has already been deployed by Ford to scan the changing layout of one of its facilities, and has also been used to carry out various tasks on an oil and gas production vessel in Norway.

The latest deployment, however, is less about improving workplace efficiency and more about scaring the bejesus out of local wildlife.

Officials at Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska are hoping that the sight of the robot, which it’s named Aurora, will be enough to scare off birds and other creatures if they come too close to airport land, especially the runway. Bird strikes on aircraft engines are a serious safety concern for airport operators, with existing deterrence methods including loud noises like alarms and sirens, while efforts are also made to make the nearby environment less hospitable for wildlife.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently shared a short video on Instagram showing off its new hire, which it said will “enhance and augment airport safety and operations.”

Aurora will be deployed in the fall when the migratory bird season begins, the Anchorage Daily News reported, though officials are also keen to see how animals like moose and bears react to the robot. To make Aurora more effective, a disguise will be attached to the robot to make it resemble a coyote or fox.

“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,” Ryan Marlow, a program manager with the Alaska Department of Transportation, said recently. Should Aurora succeed in keeping wildlife at bay, officials will consider sending additional robots to other airports in the region.

But what if it fails? In that case, the airport might want to consider this more terrifying robot that’s used in parts of Japan to scare bears away from villages and towns. The only problem is, it’s so hideous that it might end up terrifying the airport’s passengers, too.

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This post was originally published on Digital Trends

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