It is amazing to watch animals learn useful tricks. A dog that can fetch you a beer out of the fridge is great, but you have to think bigger in today’s world.
Hans Forsberg is an industrial robotics specialist and was inspired by the wild birds that he found in his backyard to create a way for them to benefit from their knowledge.
He then taught the neighborhood magpies how to recycle bottles caps and exchange them for food by a machine that he had built.
Magpies are smart birds, and they have set an example in recycling trash.
Hans has a backyard where he keeps a pair of magpies that have lived there for years. Hans was amazed to see how curious little creatures began playing with his complex lantern locks one day. Then a thought struck.
Hans realized that magpies could be used to carry out other meaningful tasks.
He decided to build a machine that would allow him to train birds to pick up trash from his garden and exchange it for food. He was able to create a new project, and it seemed like no one had ever done anything similar before. There were no instructions on the internet so he did it all himself.
Hans Forsberg, a computer scientist, created a machine that can dispense food in return for bottles caps.
When a magpie drops the bottle cap in the designated hole, it receives a treat from its dispenser.
The project included many key components and processes. The dispenser is filled with peanuts and animal food kibble. When a piece or more of trash (in this instance, a cap from a bottle) is deposited in a receptacle it releases one to two pieces of food.
Once an offering has been made, the food is distributed and falls through a tube and funnel connected to a base that contains a small compartment for the bird to retrieve it.
The main box houses a Raspberry Pi system and a camera. There are also electronics and detectors attached below the table where the machine rests to process and trigger food dispensation.
He taught his neighborhood magpies how to recycle bottles that had been littered in the neighborhood over many years.
Adult magpies are more cautious than the young, but they are very keen to keep the environment clean.
This project is much more complex than it seems. It involves vibrating motors and a variety of moving parts within the dispenser. There is even a graphic user interface that logs the progress and status. You can find more information in Hackster’s story.
This project has been in existence for many years, as it is not easy to train magpies how to pick up trash. Hans explained that he had to first get the birds to feed the feeder and then persuade them during patrols to come to him.
It was also quite challenging because adult magpies are suspicious of any changes in the rig. All of that changed once they had offspring. The chicks are braver when they approach the machine and participate in this elaborate recycling scheme.
He hopes to show them how to pick up other types of trash in the future like cigarettes butts.
Sign up for our newsletter to get the best of The Sized delivered to your inbox daily.