A flock of pigeons wearing mobile phone-style backpacks are to be used as air-pollution monitors in the us, reports New Scientist.
The 20 pigeons will each carry a Global Positioning System satellite tracking receiver, air pollution sensors (capable of detecting carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide) and a basic mobile phone transmitter. Text messages on air quality will be beamed back in real time to a special pigeon "blog", or online journal, while miniature cameras slung around the birds' necks will post aerial pictures.
The pigeons are to be released in August into the smog-filled skies over San Jose in California. Beatriz da Costa, a researcher from the University of California at Irvine, and two of her students came up with the idea and had built a prototype of the pigeons' equipment.
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