AI-targeted laser weapon created by China… To fight birds

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It seems that China is more annoyed at birds than most people, as Chinese scientists have built an AI-targeted laser weapon to fight them. No, this isn’t a joke, there actually is an AI laser that was made to fend off birds in the country. Luckily, the weapon isn’t a fatal one that immediately kills any birds but it’s still concerning.

Why does China hate birds?

According to SCMP, the AI-targeted laser weapon is to fend off birds from airports as a way to prevent any collisions between the poor birds and airplanes. The non-lethal laser is guided by a smart camera with image recognition and tracking algorithms.

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While it’s not a perfect system, things have improved for this weapon against birds, as researchers have reported a 50% improvement on target tracking. Thankfully, there isn’t much else to hit in the air aside from other birds and some insects, so we doubt anyone was in any danger before things were improved.

Professor Zhao Fan from Xian University of Technology led the research to get rid of these birds from Chinese airports. Zhao Fan’s research on this technology was so impressive that it ended up being published in his team’s peer-reviewed journal Laser & Optoelectronics Progress in April.

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Is shooting birds necessary?

To be frank, having an AI weapon that can shoot birds is a bit extreme but China seems to have good reasons for this device. SCMP claims that there are 20,000 reported collisions between birds and aircrafts every year. The report also says that these collisions usually happen during the launch and landing of aircrafts.

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Despite some good intentions, there are people who are very concerned about the technology in use. Zhou Haixiang, a wild bird conservationist in Liaoning province, has mentioned how these non-lethal weapons could still be harmful to birds, especially if the airports are near any bird habitats.

“Many airports are built next to habitats of precious wild birds. The [Dalian] Jinzhouwan Airport in Liaoning, for instance, is next to the habitat of the common crane and great bustard. The [Wuhu] Xuanzhou Airport in Anhui is near the habitat of the white crane. If the laser is strong enough to hurt these protected species, its use will constitute violation of the law,” he said.