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Robot Scarecrows – A New Twist on an Old Idea

A poorly constructed robotic scarecrow

Autumn is a beautiful time of year in many places. The leaves change colors in some parts of the world, and the season is historically known as a time of harvest. Holidays associated with autumn also include Halloween as well as Thanksgiving. And on of the interesting figures that has also been linked to this time of year is the scarecrow. Scarecrows helped protect the fields from pesky birds and other animals. Likewise, scarecrows often seem a bit spooky as well, which makes for some great Halloween costumes. You might say that scarecrows are simply part of an autumn tradition.

While tradition is important, so is the persistence of constant change and innovation. As such, it might not be too surprising that scarecrows are also evolving as we speak. Like some kind of Darwinian survival of the fittest influence, the modern-day scarecrow is one that’s a bit more automated. In fact, increasingly, robot scarecrows are emerging as a new-and-improved approach to this ancient concept. With robotic inventions affecting so many industries, perhaps this isn’t shocking. But as far as animals are concerned, the shock factor with robot scarecrows seems to be pretty high!

A Little Background History About Scarecrows

When farmers first sought to come up with a solution to protect their crops, robot scarecrows definitely did not come to mind. But the concept of scaring away animals and bird with man-like statues certainly did. Wooden sculptures of Priapus, known to be quite ugly as well as erect, was often used in the fields. This form of scarecrow worked so well that the Romans soon adopted the practice as well. Even ancient Japanese farmers used similar techniques to protect their rice fields. Kakashi were tall poles adorned with smelly rags and bells that accomplished the same purpose.

A robotic scarecrow coming for your women
Although it may be the premise of a science fiction/horror flick, Japanese scientists have invented robot scarecrows. Thus far, no one has met a grisly end.

As time passed, so did the basic scarecrow. Before modern-day robotic inventions, children were actually used to scare aware birds and other animals during the Middle Ages. They would clap pieces of wood together as they ran through the fields, scaring away potential pests. But after Europe was hit hard by the plague, children were less available for such tasks. It was then that farmers found out that straw-filled burlap in the shape of a person worked equally as well. For many centuries, this has been the image of a scarecrow that many of us have. But in light of recent developments, this may soon change once again.

Today’s Modern Robot Scarecrows

Robotic inventions have been introduced for a variety of uses ranging from household assistance to warehouse manufacturing. But robot scarecrows are a relatively new concept. Some robot scarecrows perform traditional tasks like frightening birds and other fowl away from crops. But others are now used to protect other valued items as well as human beings. With this in mind, the following offer a list of some of the more interesting robotic inventions in this area.

  • RoBird – The Robotic Raptor

RoBird, produced by a Dutch company by the same name is one of the more interesting robotic inventions. It certainly fits in the category of robot scarecrows, but it has more uses than that. In essence, RoBird is a flying drone that can be easily remotely controlled by any user. In addition, it is manufactured using 3D printing technologies. Its primary use has been to scare other birds away from areas like airports. But it can also be used to herd birds as well. Touted as a humane and safe way to manage the ecosystem, RoBird is a pretty cool idea.

  • Scaretech Systems – Don’t Poop on Me!

Have you ever heard of guano? If not, you should feel pretty lucky. Guano is the term used to describe bird feces from sea birds, and it has some pretty awful properties. Not only is it extremely stinky, but guano has been found to be carcinogenic. It’s also extremely expensive to remove, which is a major problem for windfarms adjacent to the sea. Fortunately, a UK-based company called Scaretech Systems offers robot scarecrows to solve this issue. Their robotic inventions consist of mannequins in bright orange jackets that emit loud noises and strobe lights. Only triggered when its motion sensors detect birds, these robot scarecrows have essentially eliminated guano problems for the industry.

“When the gulls approach, they fly around and circle out of curiosity. When the birds come up to the scarecrow and it activates, it starts screaming and the lights start flashing. It’s like a bomb going off and the birds go into panic mode and scatter in every direction.” – Terry Christie, Creator of Scaretech Systems

  • Wolf Kamuy – The Robot Monster Wolf

While guano may be a stinky mess, human encounters with wild bears is a totally different matter altogether. With bear attacks on the rise in Japan, one community has employed robot scarecrows to solve the issue. Sold by Wolf Kumay, and manufactured by Ohta Seiki, some areas in Japan are using a “monster wolf” for protection. These 3X4-foot robotic scarecrows are mounted on stainless steel posts and have loud speakers, motion sensors, and furry coats. They also have flashing red eyes while displaying 60 different types of scary sounds. Not only have these robotic inventions driven away bears, but they also keep monkeys and deer away from crops.

“We want to let the bears know, ‘Human settlements aren’t where you live,’ and help with the co-existence of bears and people.” – Yuji Ota, CEO, Ohta Seiki

Plenty More Robotic Inventions to Come

If robotics is altering the way we think about scarecrows, then additional changes are sure to come. Indeed, robotics promise greater convenience in many ways. They have the potential to make our lives both easier and better. And as these robotic inventions demonstrate, they can make us safer as well. While some fear robots could lead to job displacement, experts suggest the opposite is actually true. New jobs will become available as robotics take over more medial tasks. All of this could lead to better quality of life for all. But at least as job displacement is concerned, robot scarecrows pose little threat. From all perspectives, they are clearly a win-win scenario that can only make things better.


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