Remotely piloted craft helps conservation society observe breeding patterns without causing much disturbance
LONDON — Military technology used to track down insurgents in Afghanistan has been adopted by Britain’s biggest nature conservation charity to protect some of the country’s rarest birds.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is using a remotely controlled drone to spy on the nests of endangered breeds and monitor the progress of reintroduced species, as the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) becomes increasingly common outside combat zones.
The RSPB drone was created by Mr Nigel Butcher, the charity’s answer to James Bond’s gadget inventor Q, at its new Centre for Conservation Science in Sandy, Bedfordshire.
“A lot of our stuff filters down from military use,” Mr Butcher said. “We built the ’copter about a year ago and have added bits and pieces to it since, like radio tracking, thermal imaging and wide-angle cameras.”