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Wednesday, 27 February 2013 10:42

Terminator sparrow helps researchers

Written by Nick Farrell



Makes other birds want to kill it

An android bird built from off-the-shelf robotics parts helped US biologists study behaviour in a sparrow species.

Duke University in North Carolina worked with engineering students and a taxidermist to operate the wings of a dead sparrow. Using simple Picaxe computer chips, and built a linear motor to fit inside the cavity of the bird they named Robosparrow. The idea was not to search for a sparrow Sarah Connor, but to study male aggressive behaviour among the species.

Over two months the researchers confirmed that wing-flapping is a sign of male aggression. The robot was programmed to be aggressive flap its wings at other birds. They took umbrage at the robot and beat it up. At no point however did they try to dowse it in liquid nitrogen, but the test was not carried out at iron works either.

Still apparently you can make a robo-sparrow for £990, just don’t expect it to do much other than get beaten up by other birds and kill itself.

Nick Farrell

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