These sensor-packed fake eggs are helping revive endangered vulture populations

3d printed sensor packed eggs save vulture population screen shot 2016 04 at 3 36 49 pm
Conservationists are working with more technological innovations these days in the fight to protect the planet’s endangered species and their threatened habitats. One of their newest tools is EggDuino: a 3d-printed egg crafted specifically to look and feel just like the real egg a vulture might incubate in its nest. Each faux egg is disguised so that vultures will treat it like they would a viable egg of their own, while the sensors inside help conservationists understand the behaviors and habits of this endangered bird of prey.

So far, the EggDuino has been used at the International Centre for Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire, UK. The facility hosts a captive breeding program that holds much promise for the dwindling population of vultures around the world. But captive breeding presents challenges, because of the delicate balance of details required to replicate birds’ natural incubation processes.

To help overcome this obstacle, Microduino provided sensors to help detect temperature, humidity, and movement from within the EggDunio disguise. Tracking these measurable elements of incubation could help the Centre rear more healthy, happy birds of prey to boost their population numbers once again. The barometer, gyrometer,and acceleremoter all rely on a core microprocessor within the egg and a bluetooth transmitter that gets information from the vulture’s nests to a data terminal that conservationists can access.

3D-printed, sensor-packed faux eggs are helping save the vulture population

Disguising the sensor technology in a perfect replica of a vulture egg may seem cruel come hatching time, but in this case it’s the only way for scientists to collect such intimate data without disturbing the vultures’ natural habits. When videos of eagles swatting drones out of the sky and kangaroos punching camera-toting UAVs went viral, it became clear that remotely monitoring animal life with invasive, unfamiliar technology wasn’t going to work. Since vultures are likely to toss unfamiliar sensors out of the nest, the eggs are perfectly shaped with a textured nylon exterior to encourage vultures to feel comfortable and safe.

Data from vulture populations in other parts of the world may have to be collected by local teams, because temperature and humidity data changes can influence vulture incubation behaviors. Since the eggs are 3D-printed, anyone with access to a 3D printing device will be able to buy $200 worth of sensors and compose their own conservationist egg kit. In the future, EggDuino technology could even expand to other bird species, like eagles and kites (the birds, not the toys).

Emerging Tech

Purdue’s robotic hummingbird is nearly as nimble as the real thing

A team of engineers in Purdue University’s Bio-Robotics Lab have developed an impressively agile flying robot, modeled after the hummingbird. Check it out in all its robotic hovering glory.

The best Nintendo Switch games, from Breath of the Wild to Rocket League

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX calls off Starlink launch just 15 minutes before liftoff

High winds above Cape Canaveral on Wednesday night forced SpaceX to postpone the launch of a Falcon 9 rocket in a mission that would have marked the first major deployment of the company’s Starlink internet satellites.
Emerging Tech

SpaceX scraps second effort to launch 60 Starlink satellites

Wednesday's planned SpaceX launch of 60 Starlink satellites was pushed back due to bad weather. Thursday's launch has also been postponed, so the company said it will try again next week.
Emerging Tech

UV-activated superglue could literally help to heal broken hearts

Scientists at China's Zhejiang University have developed a UV-activated adhesive glue that is capable of efficiently healing damage to organs, including the heart. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

USC’s penny-sized robotic bee is the most sci-fi thing you’ll see all week

Engineers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles have built a bee-inspired robot that weighs just 95 milligrams and is smaller than a penny. Check it out in action here.
Emerging Tech

Watch this drone dodge an incoming soccer ball autonomously

Most drones aren't very good at avoiding incoming objects. But now a team from the University of Zurich has developed a drone which can dodge, swoop, and dive to avoid an incoming football.
Emerging Tech

Experts warn 5G could interfere with weather forecasts, reducing accuracy by 30%

Experts and officials have warned that interference from 5G wireless radios could seriously compromise the ability to forecast weather, including the prediction of extreme weather events like hurricanes.
Emerging Tech

Chang’e 4 mission may have found minerals from beneath the surface of the moon

China's Chang'e 4 mission has made a major discovery: minerals that could be from beneath the surface of the moon. The lander spotted two unexpected mineral types which match what is believed to exist in the mantle.
Emerging Tech

See the impact site where the Beresheet spacecraft crashed into the moon

An image of the crash site of SpaceIL's ill-fated Beresheet spacecraft has been captured by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and is being analyzed for information about the moon's soil.
Emerging Tech

See a fly-over of Mars and track the path Curiosity will take up Mount Sharp

A new animation from NASA shows a fly-over of Mount Sharp on Mars, the location where the Curiosity rover is currently exploring. It also shows the path that Curiosity will take over the next few years.
Emerging Tech

Two galaxies play tug of war in this spectacular Hubble image

Hubble has captured evidence of a nearby galactic neighbor affecting the the shape and star production of a galaxy. The irregular galaxy NGC 4485 has been pulled into an unusual shape due to the nearby and much larger galaxy NGC 4490.
Emerging Tech

The moon is shrinking as it loses heat, new images reveal

New research suggests the Moon is shrinking. NASA scientists have used data from their Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera to look at wrinkles in the surface of the Moon which are formed as it loses heat and shrinks in size.
Emerging Tech

Friendly cube robot Bumble passes its first hardware test aboard the ISS

There are some unexpected guests aboard the International Space Station (ISS): cute cube robots called Astrobees. Now the first Astrobee robot has undergone hardware tests to check whether its subsystems are working correctly.