Engineering Vs Pigeons

We’ve all been there. Pigeons are generally pretty innocuous, but they do leave a mess. If you have a convertible or a bicycle or even just a clean car, you probably don’t want them hanging around. [Max] was tired of a messy balcony, so like you might approach any engineering problem, he worked his way through several possible solutions. Starting with plastic crows, and naturally ending with an automated water gun.

The resulting robotic water gun that targets pigeons with openCV is a dandy project and while we don’t usually advocate shooting at neighborhood animals, we don’t think a little water will be any worse than the rain for the pigeons. The build started with a cheap electric water pistol. A Wemos D1 Mini ESP8266 development board provides the brainpower. The water pistol wouldn’t easily take rechargeable batteries, plus it is a good idea to separate the logic supply and the pump motors, so the D1 gets power from a USB power bank separate from the gun’s batteries.

That leaves the camera. An old iPhone 6S with a 3D printed bracket feeds video to a Python script that uses openCV. If looks for changes using a very particular algorithm to detect that something is moving and fires the gun. It doesn’t appear that it actually tracks the pigeons, so maybe that’s a thought for version 2.

Was it successful? Maybe, but it does seem like the pigeons learned to avoid it. We still think azimuth and elevation on the gun would help.

Most of the time when we see pigeon hacking it is to use them for nefarious purposes. [Max] should be glad he doesn’t have to deal with lions.

36 thoughts on “Engineering Vs Pigeons

  1. I fear this kind of attack on pigeons will only provoke an arms race. Before long, we will find that the pigeons group together and become organised, deploying their own superior Ai which then evolves into general Ai and then ….. BOOM …. pigeons have taken over the whole planet … and beyond.

  2. Was looking for something to deter cats from coming in our garden, this looks very interesting. Could be combined with the software that identifies cats for the smart cat flap maybe…

  3. Moving my electric shutters causes the pigeons to fly away from my windowsills, so I’ve thought about making something that detects the sound they make and moves the shutters a bit.

  4. Great project ! It remembers me the same project I came up with three years ago. The only difference was the use of a Rasperry Pi + Camera and a neural stick for the detection. I wrote a program that trigerred an eletric water pistol when a bird was detected. Was quite fun to build, but unfortunately the pigeons were rapidly get used to it and I even suspected them to come for a free shot of fresh water ;))

    1. That model is EOL as per the manufacturer, so it’s old regardless of how much time has passed since its release. That’s not a problem with the article, it’s a problem with Apple not letting people install their own OS on an EOL portable computer.

  5. I did something very similar. Used the same water gun, removed the batteries, replaced the trigger with a light-beam break sensor. I use it to keep cats away from restricted areas. Got all the parts on Amazon. I have a picture, but looks like you can’t post pictures here 🙄

  6. I think I might modify this to keep neighborhood cats off my garden – especially at this time of year when they come and dig up my seed-beds to do their ‘business’.

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