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Now, a robotic pigeon from China’s labs

Now, a robotic pigeon from China’s labs
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First Published: Mon, Mar 19 2007. 02 48 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Mar 19 2007. 02 48 PM IST
PTI
Beijing: Recognizing the multiple uses that the traditional pigeon has in Oriental mythology, Chinese scientists have gone a step further by using science and technology to transform a normal pigeon into a “robot bird” which can be deployed for a number of uses, including national defence.
According to an official report in the national media agency, “Scientists in Qingdao city in east China’s Shandong Province implanted electrodes in the brain of the pigeon to control its behaviour and flight by remote control, using electrical stimulation.”
The electric stimulation is precisely controlled by computer programmes,” said Su Xuecheng, director of the project from Shandong University of Science and Technology.
So far, scientists are able to order the pigeon to perform many complicated tasks like “take-off” and “landing”, as well as turning right and left during flight. In the coming months the programming will get more sophisticated and the robotic pigeon’s charter of duties will be suitably upgraded.
Robot birds will be pressed into service for rescue operations, photography, mapping and purposes of national defence.
Of one thing the Chinese are sure: these robot birds would be far more reliable than their traditional counterparts. Using native intelligence that is intrinsic to their natural proclivities, these would be upgraded and modified with more sophisticated versions.
“Besides, birds are much more flexible than common robots, particularly in a harsh environment,” Liu Xiaofeng, a researcher said which makes the choice of a pigeon as a robot experiment much more relevant.
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First Published: Mon, Mar 19 2007. 02 48 PM IST
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