Birds eating your crops? $10k laser turrets will solve that problem

Back in the day, farmers used straw-stuffed scarecrows to frighten off hungry birds. Here in 2017 — at least if you’re one particular tech-savvy blueberry farm in Oregon — there’s a cutting edge alternative: lasers.

Having last year lost more blueberries to birds than it had in any previous year, this summer the 168-acre farm installed six automated mounted laser guns, called Agrilaser Autonomics, manufactured by the Netherlands-based company Bird Control Group. The $10,000 Autonomic laser is described by its creators as a “fully automated bird repelling system that provides continuous bird repelling capability after a one-time configuration.” The idea behind it is relatively simple: The lasers sweep the bushes from side to side, tricking the bird into thinking they represent some physical danger, and causing them to disperse to seek safety.

Not only is the AC power or solar energy-powered solution able to cover more ground than a simple scarecrow, but Bird Control Group says that it has a longer-lasting effect and birds will not become accustomed to it. The laser is colored green, since this is supposedly perceived as being the most intense color by the birds, roughly 8 times more so than the color red. The laser has filters which reduce potentially harmful radiation. The resulting laser turret therefore should pose no actual physical threat to the birds — although not enough research has been carried out to prove this 100 percent.

Nonetheless, they prove extraordinarily effective. After installing six of the lasers, the Oregon blueberry farm says that it reduced the number of birds in the vicinity by 99 percent, saving an estimated 578,713 pounds of blueberries, with a value of $99,733.

Future iterations of the laser will reportedly be even smarter. Bird Control Group CEO Steinar Henskes told the website IEEE Spectrum that the company plans to add detection capabilities so the lasers can turn on specifically in response to the arrival of birds, triggered either by camera or radar. The next generation of laser deterrents may also allow farmers to remotely control the laser pattern and pulse, possibly adapting the devices for different uses cases.

Hey, between laser-firing scarecrows and self-driving tractors, the farms of tomorrow are certainly going to look like very different places!

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Mobile

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Gaming

Xbox One S vs. PlayStation 4 Slim: Which console is worth your money?

Microsoft's new Xbox One S and Sony's PlayStation 4 "Slim" have bucked the generational gaming console trend. But which of these stopgap systems is worth spending your paycheck on?
Product Review

Meet Z6, the breakout star in Nikon's new mirrorless lineup

The Nikon Z6 is the sibling to the new mirrorless Z7 -- but for some photographers, the cheaper Z6 may be the better option. Read where the $2,000 camera beats the $3,400 one (and where it doesn’t) in our Nikon Z6 review.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.