It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Robird!
Drone technology takes flight at Edmonton International Airport
The latest line of defence in keeping wildlife from flight paths at the Edmonton International Airport is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) called a robird.
Painted to look like a female falcon, the robotic bird swoops in with wings flapping up and down.
- Robotic falcons to scare away real birds at Edmonton airport
- 'It's the future': Small prairie village pins economic fortunes on drones
Looking from an airplane window travelling over Edmonton, a passenger might not even notice the difference.
"I would challenge them to tell me if it is a robird or a real bird," said Aerium Analytics pilot Justin Quesnel.
Aerium Analytics, a Calgary-based company which is working with Clear Flight Solutions out of the Netherlands, demonstrated the new UAV technology Monday at the Edmonton International Airport.
The robirds are a pilot project that will take flight in July and continue into the fall.
The drones will be part of the existing wildlife management system that includes habitat relocation, pyrotechnics and a live falcon that is brought in to assist in keeping the airport runways safe.
"It's definitely cutting edge," said Jul Wojnowski, a wildlife specialist with the airport.
It will also be watched closely by NAV Canada and Transport Canada as drone technology is strictly regulated in Canada.
All drones must fly in line of sight and have two operators, a pilot and observer on hand.
Aerium Analytics sees the robirds as a foot-in-the-door for drone technology in Alberta. The company uses drones for surveying, planning and inspecting workplace sectors like mining, forestry, agriculture as well as the oil and gas industry.
It started with a single UAV pilot and now see a future where they will need eight to 10 pilots very quickly.
"Every month there is a new technology, a new advancement, there is a new sensor," said managing director Jordan Cicoria.
Aerium Analytics has joined the consortium of companies in the Alberta Aerospace and Technology Centre (AATC) at Edmonton International Airport.