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PIGEON PILOTS – NISTory

PIGEON PILOTS – NISTory


Well, that’s a nice bird.>>When people talk
about pigeon droppings. [SOUND]
>>[COUGH]>>They probably aren’t thinking bombs.>>Why?
>>[SOUND] but there was a point during World War II
when these highly trainable animals where taught to drop artillery from the sky. [MUSIC]>>Nistory Minute.>>Pigeon Pilots. [MUSIC]>>In the 1940s, many people were looking
for a way to keep US pilots from having to go deep into enemy territory to drop
bombs A famous psychologist named B.F. Skinner thought birds could help. So, he began training pigeons to eat
seeds from screens showing video footage of battle zones. Their favorite seeds were put
on the most important and difficult to reach targets,
like ships in enemy waters. Next, the birds were put into
gliders specially designed by NIST. The gliders had see through nose cones. As the birds pecked in search
of their favorite food, each peck on the nose cone sent
a signal to move the glider’s wings. Tests in simulators showed the birds
had a high rate of accuracy, [SOUND] but these bird navigators were
grounded when NIST became inspired by another flying friend, the bat. NIST designed a radio-based system that
targeted ships using echolocation. [SOUND] But
Project Pigeon was not a total loss. The conductive touchscreens were
the 1.0 version of modern touchscreen. [SOUND] Today, NIST continues to take inspiration
from nature in a variety of projects. From creating artificial dog noses for
improved chemical sensing, to mimicking the microstructure of
nature’s toughest compasses to create materials that can
survive intense impacts. [MUSIC] Curious what NIST Research
would turn up next? Find us at www.nist.gov.


Reader Comments

  1. Thanks for checking out our videos. Please add your comments and let us know what you think. We will be reviewing and then posting comments as long as they are on topic, respectful and do not promote specific products or service

  2. Want to learn more about this topic? Check out this NIST blog post. https://www.nist.gov/blogs/taking-measure/saga-bird-brained-bombers

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