On a warm February day, in the shadow of the Rockies, two eagles are preparing for flight. The birds, a bald eagle named Spirit and a golden eagle named War Eagle VII (aka Nova), were brought to the Department of Energy’s National Wind Technology Center by Auburn University.
The hope is that they will assist in developing radar detection and camera systems that can detect eagles and shutdown wind turbines, preventing the birds from being killed.
Using technology originally designed to detect small aircraft in the vicinity of turbines, Eric Laufer, the president of Laufer Wind, had the idea to adapt the technology to detect eagles. Currently, he is working with Boulder Imaging and Res Americas on the technology.
In 2012, Res Americas and Boulder Imaging began developing a new technology called Identiflight, “a camera based system to detect eagles at distance,” according to Tom Hiester, Senior VP of Development for Res Americas. “The limited shutdown of specific turbines is how Identiflight protects both eagles and the energy production.”
The goal of this day’s test flights is “to analyze their size, from a radar’s perspective, their speed and their flight patterns...to develop algorithms to track the birds and make sure they’re birds of interest,” said Laufer.