Cat drone inventor works on flying cows

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By BBC

A Dutch inventor has started work on his next project – a cow drone.

Bart Jansen is best known for turning his dead cat Orville into a drone. His next flying venture aims to see humans riding on their animals in the sky.

“I never know what the next thing is going to be but what I do know is that we’ve wanted to build a helicopter for ourselves,” Mr Jansen said.

“One that we can fit in and we have been thinking about designing one that you can sit on and flies.

“If I’m going to fly, I want to fly in something weird. So we’ve been thinking about animals that are big enough to fly in.

“We have a cow at the moment – it’s at the tannery right now. It’s going to be like a bovine personnel carrier, but airborne.”

Mr Jansen started collecting dead animals in 2007 for a book called the Observer’s Book of Roadkill and began to stuff his discoveries.

He took some taxidermy lessons but admits he’s not the best taxidermist in the world and still seeks the help of the professionals when he doesn’t have time to do it himself.

Mr Jansen, who describes himself as an artist, has turned rats, sharks and ostriches into flying drones and even made a badger submarine.

“We never know beforehand what it’s going to look like, that’s the fun thing,” he said.

There have been critics of his work. “I don’t know who they are, the people that are complaining online. I have 10 neighbours and they all like it.”

Mr Jansen has teamed up with engineer Arjen Beltman and the pair have received lots of requests to transform other people’s pets into drones.

“We ask people to have their animal taxidermied before sending it to us.”

The majority of the requests come from the US. He warns that the finished product probably won’t exactly resemble the beloved pet.

“It’s not going to look like dear old Ralph or much beloved Pebbles. Orville is not the same cat he was when he was alive. He looks very different.”

Mr Jansen said he wanted to be an inventor from a young age.

“It’s not about drones for me. I don’t really like drones or remote-controlled flying.

“That’s what Arjen does. What I wanted back then was a monument to my cat who was named after Orville Wright, one of the Wright brothers.

“In that train of thought, the monument for my deceased cat had to fly. I drew a drawing of a cat with a blade out of its back and said, ‘Let’s make a helicopter.’

“I was working as a builder back then and I said to one of the engineers, ‘Does anyone here fly drones?’ and that’s when I met Arjen and now we are partners.”

But the pair don’t want to just churn out the same animals – they’re going to be selective.

“I now have to think about how much it will cost to make a golden retriever fly – I have no idea.

“It takes weeks to get the animal in the air so it would be nice if people didn’t send me frozen animals.

“I just want a skin that we can build the copter around.”

It took over 12 months and three versions before Orville the cat was ready to fly.

“We worked on Orville’s copter for a year, on and off, and it cost €2,500 (£2,100) in materials alone without charging for countless expert man hours.”

In the meantime, Mr Jansen works fitting solar panels but hopes this new business will really take off.

 

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