Skip to main content

Dog-like Spot robot gets a gig to scare wildlife

Spot, a robot dog.
Boston Dynamics / Boston Dynamics

Boston Dynamics’ dog-like Spot robot is an incredibly agile machine available for various industries to try out as a robotic work colleague for the last four years.

Spot has already been deployed by Ford to scan the changing layout of one of its facilities and has also been used to carry out various tasks on an oil and gas production vessel in Norway.

The latest deployment, however, is less about improving workplace efficiency and more about scaring the bejesus out of local wildlife.

Officials at Fairbanks International Airport in Alaska are hoping that the sight of the robot, which it has named Aurora, will be enough to scare off birds and other creatures if they come too close to airport land, especially the runway. Bird strikes on aircraft engines are a serious safety concern for airport operators, with existing deterrence methods including loud noises like alarms and sirens, while efforts are also made to make the nearby environment less hospitable for wildlife.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities recently shared a short video on Instagram showing off its new hire, which it said will “enhance and augment airport safety and operations.”

Aurora will be deployed in the fall when the migratory bird season begins, the Anchorage Daily News reported, though officials are also keen to see how animals like moose and bears react to the robot. To make Aurora more effective, a disguise will be attached to the robot to make it resemble a coyote or fox.

“The sole purpose of this is to act as a predator, and allow for us to invoke that response in wildlife without having to use other means,” Ryan Marlow, a program manager with the Alaska Department of Transportation, said recently. Should Aurora succeed in keeping wildlife at bay, officials will consider sending additional robots to other airports in the region.

But what if it fails? In that case, the airport might want to consider this more terrifying robot that’s used in parts of Japan to scare bears away from villages and towns. The only problem is, it’s so hideous that it might end up terrifying the airport’s passengers, too.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Amazing Atlas robot shows it’s almost ready for work
Boston Dynamics' Atlas robot.

We already know that Atlas can dance, somersault, and do parkour, but seeing it carrying out tasks on a construction site -- or something set up as a construction site -- shows us how the bipedal robot could one day be usefully deployed in the workplace.

In the latest video released by the robot wizards at Boston Dynamics, Atlas is shown assisting a human construction worker in the most remarkable way.

Read more
Boston Dynamics’ festive robot video has a surprise ending
Boston Dynamics' Spot robot.

Robot specialists Boston Dynamics has shared a festive video featuring Spot, its dog-like robotic quadruped.

“We hope you have an uplifting holiday season!” the robotics team says in a message accompanying the 90-second skit, adding: “Spot was teleoperated by professional operators, don't try this at home.”

Read more
Spot’s latest robot dance highlights new features
Spot robot dancing.

Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot has hit the dance floor again in a new video that seeks to highlight recent improvements made to the quadruped contraption.

No Time to Dance | Boston Dynamics

Read more