Researchers use taxidermy bird drones to monitor wildlife
SOCORRO, N.M. (Gray News/TMX) - Researchers at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology are developing wildlife surveillance drones using taxidermy birds.
The “bio-drones” are safer and less obtrusive to wildlife than traditional drones, according to Dr. Mostafa Hassanalian, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at New Mexico Tech who is leading the research.
The drones are also more efficient, thanks to the real wings of birds preserved through taxidermy.
Videos shared by Hassanalian show the drones in action, with the feathers helping the mechanically flapped wings appear and behave more naturally.
One clip shows a bird drone flying over a field and, at a distance, it appears almost real.
The team at New Mexico Tech is developing the drone with wildlife monitoring in mind, “not spying,” Hassanalian said.
“Drones are being used for wildlife monitoring, however, they create lots of noise which could scare the animals,” Hassanalian wrote online.
He added that no birds were harmed in the making of the drones and that the birds were sourced from local taxidermy artists and the wider market.
“Our main goal for this is to develop a nature-friendly drone concept for wildlife monitoring,” Hassanalian said. “Traditional drones are often disruptive to ecosystems due to issues such as sound and unfamiliarity, so developing quieter, natural-looking alternatives could help wildlife monitoring and research.”
Copyright 2023 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved. TMX contributed to this report.