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Aurora has a tough life. The little robotic dog was built by Boston Dynamics and spent years learning to traverse all kinds of terrain. Then he was shipped from New England to Fairbanks, Alaska. When he arrived, he was immediately pressed into service, walking the rounds outdoors.

You might think this is a good thing, a chance for Aurora to meet some real life canines and other critters in the wild north. But you’d be wrong. See, Aurora’s new employers designed fur-like graphics so they could dress him up as a fox or coyote. This poor little robot’s job is to scare away any animal he encounters.

Aurora spends all day and night patrolling the highways. It’s especially important he scare migrating birds away from their nests. But if he encounters moose or bear, he’s supposed to chase them until they run away too. There’s one silver lining for Aurora: he’s doing this all to save their lives.

The view of Fairbanks International Airport from the air
Fairbanks International Airport | Alaska Air

See Aurora’s new home is the Fairbanks International Airport. His new people are the Alaska Department of Transportation. Alaska is the state with the most fatal airplane crashes per capita, and one reason is birds living near runways striking small planes during takeoff.

The DoT has tried all kinds of strategies to keep Alaskan runways clear. It has installed speakers playing loud noises on loop. It has shot at nearby animals with nonlethal paintball guns. It has unleashed pigs to eat bird eggs. It has even set up drones to spray the area with grape juice which the animals don’t like. But nothing worked, nothing until Aurora.

So next time Alaskans land or take off in Fairbanks safely, they can thank the brave little robot, patrolling through the snow and ice, night and day, just to keep the runways clear.

Next, meet the first police robot shot in the line of duty, or learn more about Boston Dynamics’ humanoid robot in the video below: