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Chinese researchers develop a laser that is ‘painful but non-lethal’ to keep birds away from airports

Around 20,000 bird attacks are reported annually, and some of them may result in small accidents, making them a significant problem for aircraft. The majority of events, with an estimated 98 feet above the ground, occur relatively close to the runway, according to government data. Chinese researchers have now developed a novel method to prevent these occurrences and keep birds away from airports. To track and drive away the birds, they have created a robotic device that can be installed on the airport’s perimeter.

The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Laser & Optoelectronics Progress, was led by Professor Zhao Fan from Xian University of Technology in the province of Shaanxi.

According to Zhao, ‘Its performance outperforms other algorithms of the same type.’

The device, which is described in the research paper, employs artificial intelligence to locate flying birds near airports and then emit a ‘non-lethal but painful’ beam to compel them to take flight.

The device first detects and tracks the movement of nearby birds using a number of built-in cameras, and once the target is locked in, it releases the beam using a laser emitter and reflective mirror.

Till now, the system has shown an average accuracy rate of just above 50 per cent. However, a number of experts have expressed concerns about its accidental impacts on the pilots.

‘We have to consider its potential risk for pilots. We can’t put it into use unless the system reaches 100 per cent accuracy,’ a Nanjing-based aviation expert said according to the SCMP report.


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