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Pigeons With Backpacks Are Fighting Air Pollution in London

Tiny sensors strapped to the birds will relay back to a publicly accessible database.
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London has an unusual new weapon in the fight against pollution: pigeons with backpacks. A new project called Pigeon Air Patrol is sending out birds strapped with tiny harnesses to fly across the U.K. capital during the next few days. Inside each backpack harness is an air quality sensor, and as the birds spread out across the city, Londoners can check the air quality readings relayed from each sensor by tweeting their location to the Pigeon Air Patrol Twitter account. An accompanying website also lets you track the birds’ progress across London, gauging pollutant levels wherever they take temporary roost.

The results may well prove interesting, but so far the most striking impression from the project is that the whole thing is kind of adorable. Here’s the moment when Pigeon Air Patrol’s pigeon fancier in residence releases some of his birds off an East London rooftop.