Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom--A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at $48 with coupon code "BFRIDAY20" ×
Earth Idle

Startup Plans To Clean Up Cigarette Butts Using Crows (popularmechanics.com) 205

AmiMoJo writes: A startup in the Netherlands is developing the "Crowbar," a bird feeder that takes discarded cigarette butts as payment for dispensing food. A camera recognises cigarette filters and rejects any other objects placed in the Crowbar. The idea isn't entirely original, a gentleman in the US has already built a similar device and trained crows to deposit coins. The hope is that crows will be able to keep cities clean, sort through refuse and perform other tasks for our mutual benefit.
Popular Mechanics notes that crows "are some of the smartest animals in the world," suggesting this means "we could harness their abilities for the greater good of our planet."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Startup Plans To Clean Up Cigarette Butts Using Crows

Comments Filter:
  • Gateway drug (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Templer421 ( 4988421 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @01:42PM (#55369177)

    To crows smoking marijuana.

    Next thing you know they will be robbing liquor stores and pirating music!

  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @01:45PM (#55369205)

    "it's okay for me to throw my butts into the street, because a crow will pick it up and get fed. I'm thinking of the crows"

    how about robots that pick up smoldering butts and use them to burn the faces of the smokers that throw them. I think this kind of negative reinforcement is a better solution and doesn't involve enslaving animals.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 14, 2017 @02:00PM (#55369283)

      Hee hee, crows will swoop in on unsuspecting smokers and snatch their still-lit cigarettes from their hands. They will grab entire packs when they can. It will be hilarious.

    • by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @02:14PM (#55369351)

      I was in the military back in the 1990s. Each day, two guys would be assigned as the "barracks NCOs". (NCO: Non-Commisioned Officer, enlisted person of corporal or above) They were there to ensure nothing bad happened without it being written down in a log book. Ok, ok, sometimes they prevented bad stuff from happening to begin with.

      One day, I had the barracks NCO duty. It was on a Thursday, which was cleaning day for Friday's inspections. One duty was having a work detail clean the yard around the building, and the common areas in the 4-story building. Usually this was having 15-20 guys walk around the building picking up trash, which was mostly cigarette butts, and 8-10 guys cleaning the TV lounges, walk ways, and laundry rooms. So that would be 2 or 3 guys per floor.

      Anyway, on my day I asked the work detail a simple question: Who here smokes?

      No one raised their hand. I asked again, and again. Finally I said "OK. Nonsmokers, point to the smokers." Hands went up pointing out the 7 or 8 smokers. So only the smokers walked around the barracks that day, picking up all those cigarette butts, and the other guys were ecstatic because they didn't have to touch those nasty things, and they had a lot more help cleaning the common areas.

      • by bidule ( 173941 )

        Finally I said "OK. Nonsmokers, point to the smokers."

        This is so evil. I love you!

      • by Nethead ( 1563 )

        I had grounds duty in training in the Air Force back in '79 picking up butts. I also found quite a few roaches, often enough to make a decent joint out of them. Made for a relaxed weekend.

      • I was in the military back in the 1990s.

        I don't know what branch you were in, but I'd bet money you weren't in the Army. Why? Well, I've noticed many times that Army vets talk about being in the Army, but vets from any other branch talk about being in the military. I've no idea why, but that's how it seems to work. And that's the way I say it, and I was in Uncle Sam's Navy back in 'Nam.
        • Good deduction. I was in the Marine Corps, stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station in Kaneohe, Hawaii. Nice place to be stationed.

          I usually use the generic term "the military" because too many people, veterans and non-veterans alike, have pre-conceived notions of each branch. I simply didn't want it to detract from the story. It's also shorter to type. :^)

        • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

          I've no idea why, but that's how it seems to work.

          Because Navy and Air Force recruits are capable of using words of more than two syllables?

      • by arth1 ( 260657 )

        Anyway, on my day I asked the work detail a simple question: Who here smokes?

        No one raised their hand. I asked again, and again. Finally I said "OK. Nonsmokers, point to the smokers." Hands went up pointing out the 7 or 8 smokers.

        I don't believe you. No soldier would ever rat out their fellow soldiers.
        Soldiers would stand there all night if need be, without saying a word, unless the smokers themselves stepped forward.
        Someone ratting out others would find themselves ostracised at best, and likely the reaction would be more severe, but the real reason they would not betray their fellow soldiers is that the first thing soldiers learn is that they have to be able to trust each other completely, because their lives depend on it.
        Not betr

        • Sorry to burst your bubble, but when someone has to pick up cigarette butts from a barracks full of smokers who are such pigs that they throw the butts on the ground, the social convention of not ratting out your fellow men eventually disappears. Especially since only about one fourth to one third were smokers, so most of the ones picking up the butts were non-smokers.

          We aren't talking about having each others' backs in combat. We are talking about having to pick up others' biological waste. Those who put i

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      "it's okay for me to throw my butts into the street, because a crow will pick it up and get fed. I'm thinking of the crows"

      It's pretty obvious most smokers already think it's okay for them to throw their butts on the street - no justification necessary.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Gravis Zero ( 934156 )

      how about robots that pick up smoldering butts and use them to burn the faces of the smokers that throw them. I think this kind of negative reinforcement is a better solution and doesn't involve enslaving animals.

      This sounds expensive to build and maintain. Let's just optimize it a little bit and just have robots that burn the faces of people that drop cigarette butts. No wait, that'll still be too expensive. Ok, so we can just have them burn the faces of people holding a cigarette butt. Hmm... still rather expensive. We could use a much slower processor if we just have robots that will burn people's faces. Now it's best if we optimize the mechanical aspect too so that we can really get the prices into range.

      • How about adapting the suicide booths from Futurama?

        Let's make "Smoking Booth" and make it mandatory to use them for smokers.

        The smoking booth functions as follows: when it detects smoke, it completely drench the inside via its fire suppression system. Every time. Blame it on malfunctions but still make their use mandatory for smokers.

      • by pjt33 ( 739471 )

        It would be simpler to just randomly insert a small amount of some mild (but moderately stable) explosive in 1% of cigarettes.

    • Enslaving seems a bit harsh? They are going to offer them food in exchange for butts. If the crows don't like it they can literally fly off.

  • by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @01:52PM (#55369235)

    Crows are smart, but I'm not sure about being smartest. I found an injured crow when I was a kid and took it home to nurse it back to health. It eventually got better, but didn't seem to have any interest in being returned to the wild. Whenever I would take it outside it would flop around like it still had a broken wing. It got to the point that it would start flopping around in the house anytime my mom would start bitching about it. She eventually threw it out the third story window, and it tried to fly back in. As soon as I opened the door to the house, it flew back in. It learned to ring the doorbell to get someone to open the door after a couple of days. I think my mom was happy when we moved, in part, to get rid of my pet crow.

    I wonder what the unintended consiquences of rewarding a bunch of crows could be? They may start raiding public trash and ashtrays for food.

  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @02:03PM (#55369303)

    It's too bad some humans can't be trained not to litter in the first place.

    • From TFS: "Crows are some of the smartest animals in the world".

      And remember we are comparing them to evolved monkeys who work 8+ hour days for most of their lives, in exchange for money, which they spend on small sticks made of a cocktail of nasty toxic substances, all so they can inhale those substances all the while knowing fully well that in the end their only achievement was to exchange their earned money for an even shorter life expectancy.

  • Until the crows get beak cancer and PETA finds out.

    You know, maybe, just maybe, we could convince municipalities that it's THEIR job to keep a city clean, by, you know, HIRING people to sweep streets?

    Not everything needs to be a magical unicorn tech-incubator 3D printed private space asteroid-mined facebook-enabled startup.

    Just saying.

    • by ffkom ( 3519199 )

      You know, maybe, just maybe, we could convince municipalities that it's THEIR job to keep a city clean, by, you know, HIRING people to sweep streets?

      Since it would actually be the smokers duty to not litter the city, municipalities should rather hire people to fine those who throw their butts everywhere.

    • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

      It would be better to hire people to shoot smokers in the head. Or train the crows to do it.

  • At least it's not another Kickstarter.

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @02:34PM (#55369437)

    If cigarette butts are that big of a problem why not just hire some bylaw enforcement officers to patrol the areas and give out tickets for littering for anyone throwing the butts on the sidewalk/street. After people get a large fine, or two, for littering they will change their ways.

    We are a part of nature. It doesn't exist for use to use as raw materials. Until we change this attitude that everything is here for us to exploit then we will continue to seeing nature "fight back".

    • We have that here. The problem is that the smokers are too numerous to make a dent in the problem this way.

    • f cigarette butts are that big of a problem why not just hire some bylaw enforcement officers to patrol the areas and give out tickets for littering for anyone throwing the butts on the sidewalk/street. After people get a large fine, or two, for littering they will change their ways.“

      People don‘t work for peanuts, crows do.

      • People are sneaky, it is too hard. You'd have to use cameras. And then there is a whole different [blah blah blah].

    • Why not put a deposit on them just like cans and bottles. Say 50 cents per cigarette. Refundable at any place that sell cigarettes. People would pick them up just as soon as they hit the ground.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        Smokers hate that idea, and are numerous enough to be a fairly large voting and lobbying bloc.

    • After people get a large fine, or two, for littering they will change their ways.

      Sure. We only need to catch 1 billion people a couple of times and the problem will be solved. Except for those who don't see fines as a deterrent. And those who do the math and realise that the police can't catch everyone and the odds of getting a fine are minuscule. Oh I think the police have better things to do.

      Speaking of littering, on the front page is an article that says NASA got fined $400 for dropping a space station on some town. Incidentally the cost of a packet of cigarettes from a service stat

      • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
        Just double the fine every time they're caught littering. It'll start hurting very quickly even for a billionaire.

        If you need help enforcing it, give the fine based on video recordings instead of requiring police eye-witness. If the video comes from a layperson, then give them 10% of the fine. Pretty soon you'll have lookouts on every street and alleyway.
        • Then you're missing the point that odds of enforcement are low. Police have better things to do, and the studies that show the scale of punishment doesn't make it a deterrent. All you're doing is eventually feeding the prison industrial complex with people who make poor financial choices and littering rather than with criminals. The often insane disconnect between crime and punishment is precisely how the USA got to where it is.

          If the video comes from a layperson, then give them 10% of the fine.

          This is a dumb idea:
          a) you waste police time with analysing video authenticity
          b)

    • After people get a large fine, or two, for littering they will change their ways.

      Just like how there's no speeders on the road because the first few speeders got a large fine.

      • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

        That's a good example. The vast majority of people (here at least) drive at the highest speed that the cops will ignore. A small number drive faster, and get fined. Seems like the fines work for the majority.

  • Minute of hate (Score:2, Informative)

    by DCFusor ( 1763438 )
    Let's have our minute of hate for those who grew up when smoking was cool and haven't been able to quit, despite a lot of hassle and hate. Then get real. Glad I didn't grow up around the hateful people posting on this (or the week older hackaday thread...and it looks like about the same dumb, intolerant crowd here). I smoked 44 years, then quit. It was EXTREMELY HARD to do. But I managed - and years later, it still tugs on me just about every day. When you've pulled that off, you can talk hateful about
    • Did you have this copied somewhere, just waiting for a thread that mentions smoking? Almost every post here is disparaging people who litter, not for smoking in general. The big reason non-smokers hate smokers is because they have to breathe your smoke in. If smokers didn't regularly expose the rest of us to their smoke and disgusting trash, you wouldn't have to post stuff like that, because we generally wouldn't care.

      • No, I made it up on the spot after being disgusted at the unreasoning hate displayed here and last week on the same thread at Hackaday. If you think "pecking the eyes out of smokers" is about littering in general, you need to go some work on reading comprehension. Smokers might be jerks, but most picked up the habit when it was cool - and then couldn't put it down, ask anyone familiar with addiction how hard it is. As a smoker, I didn't force it on others, I went away from them once the majority switched
    • Re:Minute of hate (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thrich81 ( 1357561 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @03:44PM (#55369693)

      I'll end up saying something similar to the Reverend, maybe less angry. We're (at least not me) aren't intolerant of smokers, especially now that little of it is done inside. I recognize it's a tough addiction to kick (I can't even kick my mild desire for sugary sodas). What I don't care for is cigarette butts all over the place. I don't throw my soda cans on the ground, they go into a recycle bin. If smokers would do something similar and get the other smokers to do the same, I'd have no problems with it.

      • You end up paying for them when they get cancer too. Either through your taxes, or through higher insurance premiums, depending how your country does it.

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          I did the research on that for an assignment in undergrad. At the time (and taxes haven't gone down since then), the average smoker in Canada paid quite a bit more in taxes than they took out in public health care for their lung cancer and emphysema. Smoking costs a truly unreasonable amount when you add up a lifetime of it, and smokers tend to die fairly quickly, young enough that they haven't cost much in health care or pensions as elderly people.

          • Well, one less reason to object then! Might even help fix the pension problem.

            • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

              Yes, aside from the humanitarian issues, if we could get all the smokers to do it in isolation, it would be a pretty big net gain for society. Most places are pretty well toward that goal now, except for the littering issue.

              The humanitarian issue is pretty big though.

    • I don't hate people who smoke - I hate people who smoke and are assholes about it. Smoke yourself silly when I don't have to smell it, fine by me. Smoke when it affects me, or make a mess that I have to deal with - no, that's not acceptable.

      BTW, I also grew up when smoking was cool and smoked for decades and quit as well - climb off your fucking cross.

    • Amen to that, but what does any of it have to do with the littering problem being discussed here? Whether someone is suffering from an unfortunate addiction or not has no impact on their ability to dispose of their trash.

    • by djinn6 ( 1868030 )
      Have you tried having your own opinions on what is "cool" or not? Since this is Slashdot, I'll bet a lot of people here were nerds before it was cool and were ostracized for it. Guess what? It's cool now. And maybe in a few years it won't be. Who cares? The real nerds will keep doing what they love.

      Regarding your point about superiority: You still see the world like a teenager. Because it's hard for you to do, you think you deserve some sort of an award. Guess what? In the real world, people respect you
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      Quit whining about people trying to help you. More restrictions on smoking mean its easier for ex-smokers to stay that way, and for current smokers to quit. You picked up a deadly addiction from some evil corporations. A bunch of people fought really hard to make what those corps did to you as illegal as they could. That's why smoking "wasn't cool" for the generation after you. The "hate" is peer pressure, harnessed and used for good.

      Perhaps you were quitting smoking when it was still permissible to sm

  • There used to be a crow that turned up where I lived at the time who would take the bread thrown out for him and dunk it in a puddle before eating it. Kind of like dunking a doughnut in your coffee. Another time there were a bunch of crows flying around, they looked younger, and one of them did a barrel roll. It was very impressive.
    • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

      One outside my grandmother's house when I was a kid learned to make a sound like a car alarm. It took me a while to figure out it was a crow. I'm pretty sure it did it purely for the enjoyment of watching the local BMW owner go running out to check his car.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @04:24PM (#55369909) Journal
    ...why train them to pick cigarette butts? Why can't you train them to poop on the smokers?
    • ...why train them to pick cigarette butts? Why can't you train them to poop on the smokers?

      That requires active training with video verification. Lots of work.

      This setup is more passive, and the verification can be automated and based on still frames of a known input receptacle.

      Maybe an AR headset for crows would be a good personal project for somebody? Probably not for everycrow, though.

  • ...opens up for organized labor.

  • I do this with dogs. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Saturday October 14, 2017 @04:45PM (#55369985)

    We have a large pack of livestock working dogs on our farm. I taught one to pickup trash for treats. Others observed this and picked up the behavior. One of them figured out how to increase the price by breaking trash up into pieces and getting treats for each piece. Doganomics.

    http://sugarmtnfarm.com/2011/0... [sugarmtnfarm.com]

    It's quite successful.

    • by Kaenneth ( 82978 )

      > breaking trash up into pieces and getting treats for each piece.

      Wow, many humans don't understand that until age 3-4.

  • to simply make the cigarettes out of biodegradable materials ? Dissolves / decays when exposed to sunlight or water for X amount of time.

    I'm not a smoker so dunno how plausible it would be, but beats having animals picking up our trash.

    • by sfcat ( 872532 )

      to simply make the cigarettes out of biodegradable materials ? Dissolves / decays when exposed to sunlight or water for X amount of time.

      I'm not a smoker so dunno how plausible it would be, but beats having animals picking up our trash.

      Well done on that sarcasm. But lately there have been ads running claiming that butts last for some long amount of time which is clearly not true (otherwise this would be a real problem instead of some hatefest clickbait). So many people are seriously under the impression that they are not biodegradable for some weird reason.

  • I was on vacation once, and there was this crow-like bird outside my vacation cabin. I'd thrown him bits of banana, and he'd gobbled them down.

    At some point, he must have gotten full, but he knows there's more banana available. All of a sudden, he regurgitates other food he'd eaten earlier (you could tell it was a different color), and carries on with the banana pieces.

The more cordial the buyer's secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.

Working...