Startup Wants To Train Crows To Pick Up Cigarette Butts

Cigarette butts are everywhere, and this startup came up with a solution to get rid of them

One of the most disgusting sights when you’re walking around a park is the sight of a cigarette butt. It hurts to see people ruining the environment by throwing trash all over the place. Smokers get their way while the surroundings get the short end of the stick, literally. This is one of the things that startup company Crowded Cities aim to counter. How you ask? Their developing a way to train crows to pick up cigarette butts.

Source: Crowded Cities

The Dutch based company started the project when they saw the excessive amount of trash surrounding major cities. Industrial designers Ruben Van Der Vleuten and Bob Spikman took it to themselves to design a process that can teach these flying foragers to clean up after us. The project is called Crowbar, a type of dispenser/trash disposal unit that gives crows a snack when a cigarette butt is thrown inside. This project was based on how the ‘Crow Box’, a mechanism that gives crows peanuts when they put a coin in, works.

Source: Crowded Cities

Crows are one of the most intelligent creatures in the planet, but training them can be a hard thing to do. The purpose of the Crowbar is to teach crows in a set amount of steps. First, food is placed on the platform together with a cigarette butt. This way the crow knows of both items during the start of the process. Second, the next time the crow comes in, only the cigarette butt is present. This now solely relies on the crow’s wits if it’s able to knock the trash into the receptacle. Once it does, they’ll know that the food is related to throwing the cigarette butt. Lastly, and the only part with human intervention, is the part where cigarette butts are scattered near the receptacle to simulate “real life” scenarios. Hopefully, at this point, the crows are now able to know what to do.

Source: Crowded Cities

The idea already got the company much recognition and was even nominated for a Dutch Accenture Innovation Award. There’s much promise in the project and the creators hope that it would be a good way to fund future research.


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Startup Wants To Train Crows To Pick Up Cigarette Butts

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