Here's one for the birds... why fly when you can drive?

Andrew Gray has built a machine his parrot, Pepper, can operate with its beak.
Andrew Gray has built a machine his parrot, Pepper, can operate with its beak.

HERE'S one for the birds... in an effort to quieten his family parrot, a US student has taught the bird how to drive.

Andrew Gray, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student at the University of Florida, has built a machine his parrot, Pepper, can operate with its beak. He is now teaching it how to drive.

The parrot-driven machine, dubbed the Bird Buggy, comes as SPCA staff in New Zealand are teaching dogs how to drive in an effort to prove the intelligence of the dogs to potential adopters.

Mr Gray built the Bird Buggy in an effort to shut up his noisy parrot, who squawked whenever it was left alone.

His first effort involved a sound-triggered squirt gun aimed at the bird.

"The bird's screaming would cease after the squirt gun would fire," Mr Gray wrote on the Bird Buggy website. "However, the effectiveness of the water gun did not last. Pepper started utilising the water as a bird bath and continued to shriek."

After a sound deterrent also proved ineffectual, Mr Gray concluded allowing the parrot to move around the house would be a better idea.

"However, because of the messes the bird leaves behind and the possibility of the bird getting stepped on, roaming the house un-attended is not an option. If he could be placed on a mobile platform that could move about the house, hopefully he would stop screaming."

So he built Pepper a platform the bird can move using its beak, complete with infrared sensors and bump sensors to prevent Pepper crashing.

However as this clip shows, Pepper has difficulty turning right.

The machine was built for the Intelligent Machines Design Lab at the University of Florida.

Topics:  birds editors picks pets

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