Engineers at Caltech have developed a new control algorithm that enables just a drone to herd an entire flock of birds away from the airspace of an airport.
The algorithm is presented in a study in IEEE Transactions on Robotics.
Above, an Airbus A330 of China Eastern behind a flock of birds at London Heathrow. Credit wikimedia
The project was inspired by the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson,” when US Airways Flight 1549 struck a flock of geese shortly after takeoff and pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles were forced to land in the Hudson River off Manhattan.
Soon-Jo Chung, an associate professor of aerospace and Bren Scholar in the Division of Engineering and Applied Science, said:
“The passengers on Flight 1549 were only saved because the pilots were so skilled. It made me think that next time might not have such a happy ending. So I started looking into ways to protect airspace from birds by leveraging my research areas in autonomy and robotics.”