The University of Twente and spin-off company Clear Flight Solutions together won an award at the 3-day European Robotics Forum 2016 held in Ljubljana, Slovenia. At this, Europe’s most important, robotics event, the Twente team was awarded the TechTransfer prize for their Robird. This is an important recognition of the unique collaboration between the University of Twente and the spin-off company.
Professor of Advanced Robotics Stefano Stramigioli of the University of Twente and Nico Nijenhuis of Clear Flight Solutions jointly accepted the award in the company of Europe’s leading robotics science, business, and government figures. The TechTransfer award is given to successful forms of cooperation between knowledge institutes and companies, especially start-ups and spin-offs. The Twente team beat off competition from the renowned ETH Zurich team and their walking excavator.
“This prize is a fantastic reward for all the work we’ve done with the University of Twente,” says Nico Nijenhuis, CEO of Clear Flight Solutions. “And it’s great that this has been acknowledged in Europe. We work throughout the year with students, graduating students and researchers to further develop our drones and robirds. There are many challenges in making our technology autonomous, and we can’t do it on our own. The Twente innovation chain, which links businesses, university, HBO and even MBO, is very special.”
The theme of the European Robotics Forum was Europe’s leading position in robotics, and especially the maintenance of this position. In the Forum’s view, the Twente Robird made an excellent contribution to this leading position.
The cost of bird control at airports worldwide is estimated in the billions, and does not consist only of material damage, as birds can also be the cause of fatal accidents. Birds worldwide also cause damage running into billions in the agrarian sector, the waste disposal sector, harbours, and the oil and gas industry. A common problem is that since birds are clever they quickly get used to existing bird control solutions, and simply fly around them. The high-tech Robird, however, convincingly mimics the flight of a real peregrine falcon. The flying behaviour of the Robird is so true to life that birds immediately believe that their natural enemy is present in the area. Because this approach exploits the birds’ instinctive fear of birds of prey, habituation is not an issue.
euRobotics is a Brussels-based international association that focuses on the economic and social value of robots. It unites over 250 member organisations. Through SPARC, the partnership programme with the European Commission, it can enter public-private partnerships. SPARC is the world’s largest publicly-financed robotics innovation programme.