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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

That time the Army tried to develop a missile guided by pigeons | Task and Purpose

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The American military had a challenge in 1943,  psychologist found a solution: utilize pigeons to do the task.

Although there were plenty of bombs and missiles available, there was no dependable method of precisely guiding them for a precision hit. Project Pigeon was therefore established. At the time, Skinner was a professor at the University of Minnesota with a focus on comprehending the psychology of behavior. Naturally, homing pigeons had long been employed in the military due to their ability to be trained to fly from one location to another. Skinner started working with the birds in 1940 and came up with an experiment where they might be used to direct another object. Skinner had to make an educated guess because he was not permitted to examine the precise kind of missiles the pigeons would hypothetically direct because that information was classified. Nevertheless, the experiments were remarkably successful. Noise, temperature fluctuations, or variations in altitude in the Pelican had no effect on the pigeons’ ability to recognize and focus on targets. However, after a demonstration in 1944, the project was abandoned. Even for the Army, the pigeon-guided missile appeared to be a ridiculous idea.



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