Alaska Patent of the Month – March 2024

Hardshell Labs, Inc. was founded to create new approaches to avian management to support  conservation efforts. Their primary founding focus is on saving baby tortoises by preventing birds from picking them off at a young age. Recently, the company has been granted a patent for their pest control solution: egg oiling.

Egg oiling involves applying a thin layer of oil to a bird’s eggs. This layer blocks gas exchange across the egg, causing the embryo to stop growing. The eggs remain otherwise undamage, allowing the parent’s to continue to care for the eggs and preventing them from re-nesting. This approach is a quick and effective control method. Hardshell Lab’s patented method utilizes drone technology to expand the possibilities of egg oiling to those bird types who nest high above the ground, on cliff faces, rock outcrops, and artificial structures.

The invention revolves around a Remote Fluid Application System (RFAS) coupled to an aerial vehicle, designed to oil bird eggs for population control. This approach offers a humane and effective solution to managing avian pest species without resorting to harmful measures.

The process begins with loading an oil reservoir with oil and pressurized air, which powers the RFAS. Equipped with an RFAS camera, the system flies to a position near the target egg. A drone camera on the aerial vehicle provides additional visual feedback distinct from the RFAS camera.

Using remote operation, a gimbal motor adjusts the position of the RFAS camera and nozzle to precisely target the egg. Images captured by the RFAS camera determine the extent of oiling required, ensuring efficient and accurate application.

A key feature of this method is its adaptability. By adjusting the actuator between the oil reservoir and nozzle, operators can finely control the oil stream, generating a coherent and tight spray essential for effective coverage.

The aerial vehicle itself is equipped with a body containing multiple rotors, a controller, and a battery powering the system. A pressure sensor ensures optimal oiling efficiency without the need for onboard pumps or additional air supplies.

To enhance precision, a laser marker provides visual guidance, allowing operators to track the targeted area effectively. By moving the marker over an entire clutch of eggs, comprehensive coverage is achieved, further supported by the gimbal-mounted nozzle-camera-laser assembly.

Continuous monitoring and adjustment ensure the method’s effectiveness. Oiling efficiency is assessed based on transmitted images, enabling operators to refine dispensing parameters for subsequent applications.

Are you developing new technology for an existing application? Did you know your development work could be eligible for the R&D Tax Credit and you can receive up to 14% back on your expenses? Even if your development isn’t successful your work may still qualify for R&D credits (i.e. you don’t need to have a patent to qualify). To find out more, please contact a Swanson Reed R&D Specialist today or check out our free online eligibility test.

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