To accompany “Meet robots on a mission to help birds”
- “Biomimicry” refers to something human-made that is inspired by nature. What is one ability or characteristic found in a living thing that you would like to have? How might you design a material or object to have this characteristic?
- What are some challenges that researchers might face in making robots that look, sound or act like birds?
- Why did Ralph Simon and his colleagues build RoboFinch?
- How did zebra finches react differently to RoboFinches that sang in sync with birdsongs versus RoboFinches that were out of sync?
- How might singing robo-birds someday be used to help orphaned or wild birds?
- How did RobotFalcon’s designers evaluate how effective it was?
- Why does Paolo Segre think RobotFalcon worked better than a regular drone at shooing birds from airports?
- List three ways researchers are already using drones to study wild animals.
- Why is it challenging for drones to study animals beneath dense forest canopies?
- What are the benefits of enabling a drone to fly into a forest and perch there for a long time?
- Researchers designed a robot that could switch between flying and perching. What animals inspired this design? In what way does it mimic a bird?
- What are some of the potential downsides of using robots to try to help and study birds? What are some of the potential benefits?
- Think about a bird that lives in your neighborhood. What could you learn about that bird using a robot that mimics the bird’s look, sound or behavior?
- Animals use many different senses to monitor their environments — sight, smell, hearing, vibration and so on. Based on evidence from the story, which sense(s) do you think birds near airports used to detect RobotFalcon? Imagine a new species of bird moved into the area that has poor hearing and sight but an excellent sense of smell. Describe a robot you would design to shoo this bird away from airports. Explain your choices.