The system of cameras and the algorithm for recognizing and counting birds have been developed by researchers for several years. The team conducted two separate tests: bird detection and automatic drone deployment. To do this, they set up very small drones, which were used for flight tests in small areas with bird simulations.
Experts noted that it will take several more years to adapt the system to commercial use. In particular, the technology needs to be tested on the scale of real farms and make sure that drones will really scare away birds if they just fly.
This is the third study by the University of Washington on the interaction of drones and pests. The first showed that drones with manual control, performing random flights, successfully drive away or keep birds away from vineyards. With the help of drones in the vineyards managed to reduce the number of birds by four times.
NB: The second project demonstrated the impact of the expulsion of birds on the harvest. Researchers observed the fields from which the pests were dispersed by manual drones and found that the number of damaged fruits there had decreased by about 50%.
Manoj Karki, an associate professor of biological systems engineering at the University of Washington and lead author of the study, plans to meet with manufacturers, technology companies and other stakeholders to begin the next steps to work on a commercially available automated drone system.
Among his ideas, in particular, to try to make drones visually similar to predators and equip them with reflective shiny propellers. He believes that there is a high probability that such drones will be able to keep birds at a distance from the plantations. However, this needs to be investigated for several more years.