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Indian scientist: Bird strike can be reduced

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New Delhi: Birds dying due to aircraft have been an issue for long. According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (India’s aviation safety regulator), from 378 bird strikes recorded in 2010, incidents of collisions between birds and planes increased to 719 in 2015.

What can one do to identify the vulnerable species, save it and ensure safe air travel at the same time? Zooming in on unique genetic labels through DNA barcoding could be the key, say Indian researchers.

“Identification of bird species helps in understanding the behavior of birds in terms of its habitat, diet and the like. This data helps in the management of birds for air safety management and could lower bird strikes,” Yogesh Shouche, a senior scientist at Microbial Culture Collection (MCC), National Center for Cell Science (NCCS), Pune said.

Just as shopkeepers scan the similar-yet-different zebra stripes (barcodes) on products to keep track of what they sell and what is in stock, examining certain ubiquitous genetic sequences can differentiate one species from another with high accuracy.

“A database of DNA barcodes is generated using authenticated, well identified bird samples. This helps in easy and quick identification of remnants obtained after a bird strike. These are in the form of feathers, bloodstains and the like and accurate identification using this is not possible otherwise.

“Currently we do not have any such database in India, but there are global databases which may not have entries of bird species endemic to India,” he added.

Bird strikes not only result in financial losses, they also lower mission capability of the crew, loss of flying hours, permanent damage to the aircraft and, importantly, are always associated with the risk of mortality, the researcher stressed.

“We identified 16 different species and barn owl and red wattled lapwing were the most common species found, probably because they nest on buildings and due to grassy land near airstrips, food availability is better,” he explained.

The procedure also helped the researchers in detecting non-bird species: they found three bat species in the bird strike samples.

“Identification of birds involved in strikes was not a regular practice in India. It was done at some airports like Mumbai and Bangalore (Bengaluru) by people with expertise in bird identification using morphological means (from form and structure).

“However, such identification is difficult if the body of the bird is not found. Feathers give limited identification and if there are only bloodstains, no identification is possible. Hence barcoding has advantage,” added Shouche. The research was published in a recent Current Science article.(IANS)(image: businessinsider.com.au)

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Safety Rests on Both Uber and Riders, Says Top Executive

The two-year safety review contains almost 2,936 reports pertaining to sexual assault globally that Uber received in 2017 and 3,045 it received in 2018

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Uber, bengaluru
Photo shows an exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (VOA)

BY KRISHNA SINHACHAUDHURY 

The safety of the riders during Uber trips is a joint responsibility, a top company official said on Thursday, as driver-related bad incidents grew significantly in India in recent times.

“We do have exact data of drivers who cancel trips in India. If we find out that a driver is excessively cancelling rides, we take action on him. We recommend users to report such incidents immediately as the safety of our platform is a joint responsibility,” Sachin Kansal, Senior Director of Global Safety Products, Uber, told IANS here.

“For the Uber app to work, you need network connectivity. However, there are some features within our ecosystem that do work without connectivity. For example if you’re already in the car and you want to turn the audio-recording feature, that works. But the uploading part will not function,” Kansal said when asked how the company will ensure if there’s a ride irregularity amid lack of connectivity.

Uber would pilot audio recording as a pioneering feature in the Indian market later this year. The in-ride audio recording feature is currently available in Brazil and Mexico.

Uber
Uber app. Pixabay

“Over the past three years, we have introduced several features to enhance safety standards on our platform. Today, we raise the bar again as we work towards introducing audio recording in India as a pilot this year and roll-out the ‘RideCheck’ feature for long stop and midway drop-offs,” Kansal noted.

The global ride hailing giant announced three safety features for the country — PIN verification, “RideCheck” and in-ride audio recording.

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The safety features announced on the platform will be applicable to all the Uber services including Uber Moto and Uber Auto.

Uber in December released its first safety review which contains thousands of sexual assault reports globally. The company also revealed the changes it was making to make rides safer for its passengers and drivers.

The two-year safety review contains almost 2,936 reports pertaining to sexual assault globally that Uber received in 2017 and 3,045 it received in 2018. (IANS)