It shouldn't really come as a surprise that with so many other professionals being replaced by robots (see: nurses
), that the humble scarecrow should find himself the target of a high-tech upgrade. Trying to destroy the whole "scarecrows are dumb" myth so cruelly perpetuated by L. Frank Baum, students and faculty at the University of South Florida in Tampa have built a computer-powered model that can detect incoming birds and employ non-lethal countermeasures to protect their wards. The Intelligent Scarecrow, as it's known, was developed to combat the problem of nervey birds trying to feed themselves at the expense of Florida's $42 million fish farming industry, and has been chosen as one of 30 finalists by Microsoft in their Windows Challenge competition. Dressed in a football helmet and jersey, the bot -- which was conceived by Associate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering Ken Christensen -- uses a networked camera linked to image recognition software for identifying winged menaces in the vicinity, and attempts to repel them with a mix of annoying sounds and even more annoying blasts of water. Future versions of the bot will improve on the detection range (it can't currently cover enough area to make commercial deployment practical), and more importantly, the lack of mobility, because apparently even birds get wise to stationary deterrents eventually.
[Via The Raw Feed