Seeing animals learning tricks is one of the best things in the world. A dog can do all sorts of things like chasing a tennis ball, but we want you to think bigger.
Recently, a man by the name of Hans Forsberg, a robotics worker who specializes in industrial applications for artificial intelligence had a crazy idea. He decided to see if he could train the neighborhood magpies.
He wanted to see if he could get them to recycle! They would get food back, so it was a good trade for both parties. The machine used to collect the bottle caps is one that Forsberg created from scratch.
Magpies are so smart they can recycle!
In Forsberg’s backyard, two magpies have also moved in. They have been there a while, and one day he noticed them messing around with the locks on his outdoor lanterns. That fired up the creativity in Hans.
The birds love stealing things, and they wanted the paraffin candles. They couldn’t get them though, because of the locks. Hans was working out his plan and was thinking that these birds could possibly do more helpful things with their curiosity.
He built a machine that would train the birds to collect trash and exchange it for food.
Hans was pumped about creating the new machine, and he felt like no one had really tried to do what he was going to attempt. He even looked around on the internet, and not one single DIY project came up in his search.
Hans Forsberg, a computer scientist, created a genius machine that dispenses food in exchange for bottle caps
If a magpie drops a bottle cap into the right spot, it gets a bit of food from the dispenser
The project wasn’t an easy one, there were several components that were necessary for it to work. When a piece of trash, aka a bottle cap, is put into the receptacle, it will reward the bird with a special treat.
Once the magpie puts something into the dispenser, the food falls down through a tube and a funnel that have all been connected. Then, it is dispensed for the bird to grab it.
The central hub of the device uses a Raspberry Pi system and has a camera connected that monitors everything. There are other detectors hooked up below the table that the special device sits on top of to process the dispensation of the bits of food.
Over the years, the man has taught the magpies to grab bottle caps from around the neighborhood.
The adult magpies have never seen anything like this, but the young ones are more than eager to use the system!
Now, lest you think that you could just build this outside yourself, it’s not quite that simple. The machine also has vibrating motors and an exceptionally complicated amount of moving parts in the main chamber.
It uses a graphical user interface to log the progress of the birds that connect with the bird box. If you want to read more about it on your own, check out Forsberg’s post on Hackster.
This project isn’t new either. He has been doing this for a few years, because he learned that it’s not easy to get the birds to pick up the trash.
Hans said that he had to feed the birds regularly to get them to come near the feeder. They also make patrols and Hans had to get them to stop by every time they fly by. The adult magpies were suspicious of almost everything in the beginning, so it was definitely a work in progress. But the magpies had a few babies who would run headfirst to the machine with their bottle caps.
Thankfully, this has sped up the process of the grand recycling scheme.
Check out the full video of these amazing birds and their crazy cool feeder below!
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