This crow vending machine was created by Joshua Klein with the aim of training crows to gather loose coins in exchange for food. The idea is that they'll start teaching each other the behaviour.
The goal of this project is to create a device that will autonomously train crows. So far we've trained captive crows to deposit dropped coins they find on the ground in exchange for peanuts. The next step is to see how quickly we can get wild crows to learn the system, and then how quickly they can learn it from each other.
Once we've got system down for teaching coin collection we'll move to seeing how flexibly they can learn *other* tasks, like collecting garbage, sorting through discarded electronics, or maybe even search and rescue. The crows continue to amaze us with their abilities, so who knows?
In the meantime, the idea of mutually beneficial synanthropy is gaining ground. That's the concept that we can have mutually beneficial relationships with animals adapted to human ecologies. We're doing some consulting with companies that have animal-related problems to find animal-related solutions - instead of just bombing, shooting, or poisoning them.
It's pretty fascinating, really. I mean, what hobo wouldn't want an army of crows scouring the land for coins? You've just got to wonder how long it'll be until the crows figure out that ladies keep change in their purses. After that happens, well, it'll be a bit scarier leaving the house. [Crow Vending Machine via Bullshit]