In the Mojave Desert, Hardshell Labs employs “techno-torts” as deterrents against predatory ravens, aiming to protect vulnerable desert tortoises. These young tortoises, with their soft shells, fall prey to the ravens’ pecking, causing a sharp decline in their population.
Tim Shields, the founder of Hardshell Labs, saw the need for technological intervention. With the vision of creating a convincing faux tortoise, he collaborated with designer Frank Guercio, who used Autodesk Fusion360 for the task.
Guercio utilized this tool to craft a 3D printed imitation tortoise shell for aversive training. This design not only mimics the appearance of real tortoises but also features an intriguing defense mechanism. On contact from a pecking raven, the techno-tort releases a spray of artificial grape flavoring, a scent that, peculiarly, repels birds. Fusion 360 has been instrumental in realizing Guercio’s innovative designs for conservation.
“Being able to import really complex geometries like an organic shape, like a tortoise, is very difficult to do in any sort of industry program,” said Guercio.
“When it comes to the tortoise specifically, there was so much legwork on the back end to get it into a position where I could then mechanically edit it as an object. Fusion 360 has been a fantastic tool. We can create structures inside of the tortoise that was next to impossible about five years ago.”
The 3D printed techno-torts could potentially herald a shift in conservation strategies, leveraging technology for ecological balance. As industries evolve, the integration of technological solutions in conservational efforts might become more prevalent.
Come and let us know your thoughts on our Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, and don’t forget to sign up for our weekly additive manufacturing newsletter to get all the latest stories delivered right to your inbox.