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Dogs are often used in safety roles, like patrolling along with their human handlers at busy places like metro stations, railways and even airports. In what can be called a one-of-its-kind deployment, a US state has taken a futuristic leap by “hiring” a robotic dog to enhance airport safety.

The Alaskan government is deploying a dog-like robot from Boston Dynamics named “Aurora” to keep migratory birds and other animals away from Fairbanks International Airport runways, as per The Verge. About two weeks ago, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (DOT&PF) announced the robot’s trial on Instagram.

“Aurora will be based out of Fairbanks International Airport and will enhance and augment airport safety and operations at FAI and remote airports,” the Instagram post reads.

As per the post, Aurora was funded with a Federal Research Grant and does not utilise AI but boasts of “cutting-edge technology which helps her manoeuvre over all sorts of terrain.”

The robot is designed internally by Alaskan graphic design artist and DOT&PF employee Andrea Deppner.

“Aurora is adorned with a breathtaking depiction of Alaska’s northern lights. Swirls of vibrant colours, ranging from deep indigo to emerald green gracefully dance across Aurora’s metallic frame, perfectly capturing the beauty of the aurora borealis,” the post says.

Aurora’s ‘key responsibilities’As per the report, Aurora’s handler Ryan Marlow said that the robot will begin working this fall during migratory bird season, conducting hourly patrols near the runway. The agency will also test how larger animals like bears and moose react to Aurora. Marlow noted the robot’s panels can be changed to resemble a fox or coyote.


“The robot acts as a predator, triggering a response in wildlife without needing other methods,” Marlow said.

Marlow also said that using the robot, funded by a federal grant and costing around $70,000, is preferable to a real dog.

“A Border Collie needs food, training, shelter, and doesn’t collect data. This robot provides a non-lethal, non-chemical deterrent for wildlife mitigation, replacing explosives, noisemakers, aerial sprays, or chemicals,” Marlow said.

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