Bird Raptor has unveiled in Rome its Falco Robot (robotic hawk) gregarious bird removal system (GBRS) unmanned air vehicle. The Italian-Spanish company has spent the past 11 years designing, developing and testing the patent-pending UAV, which is designed to eliminate the need to train real birds of prey to discourage the presence of birds at airports.
The Falco Robot is a life-size copy of a female goshawk, with a 1.6m wingspan and 1kg weight, built using composite materials and powered by a small brushless electric motor driving a ducted fan installed into the "body". Powered flight lasts only a short time, for approximately 1min during take off, after which the air intake and exhaust are closed. The Falco Robot then flies like a goshawk, exploiting thermal updrafts.
The UAV is remotely controlled, with a control range up to the sight range of the controller, and its batteries allow for an endurance of 40-50min.
In a test carried out on 22 June 2007 at Genoa airport, the UAV dispersed around 1,000 seagulls. On 21 September 2007, in another test carried out at Rome Fiumicino airport, the Falco Robot kept all birds away from the runways for an entire day after a single mission lasting only 35 seconds.