What Is the Crow Box?

The Crow Box is a device designed to 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 try it with wild crows and see if we can get them to learn to use the box, then to optimize the training system for them, and then to see how quickly they can learn it from each other.

That's where you come in. Different crows learn at different speeds and in different ways, and the only way to figure out the best way to teach them is experimentation. The more people trying different things the faster we'll all figure out how to work cooperatively with crows.

Once we’ve got the system optimized for teaching coin collection we can move to seeing how flexibly they can learn *other* tasks, like collecting garbage, sorting through discarded electronics, or maybe even search and rescue. Crows continue to amaze us with their abilities, so who knows?

See the Photo Gallery

View a photo gallery of an assembled Crow Box Kit.

Filmed March 2008 - "Hacker and writer Joshua Klein is fascinated by crows. After a long amateur study of corvid behavior, he's come up with an elegant machine that may form a new bond between animal and human."

Watch the Ted Talk >>
Learn more about Josh Klein >>

The Crow Box is Open Source

The design of the Crow Box is Open Source, so you are free to make your own, edit the files, and recontribute to the project.

If you'd rather not buy the kit, download the files below and source your own parts:

  • Arduino Software Files (PDE Format) >>
  • Circuit Board Files (Eagle Format) >>
  • Bill of Materials (Google Spreadsheet Format) >>
  • Lasercut Housing Files (ZIP'd EPS Format) >>
  • Kit Contents

  • - Lasercut wood and plastic pieces for housing
  • - Quarter Dispensers
  • - All Fasteners and hex wrenches needed for assembly
  • - 12V Power Supply
  • - Two 12V Stepper motors
  • - Cables and Connectors
  • - Custom Arduino Uno shield with loose electrical components
  • - Custom Sensor boards with Infrared Sensors
  • - and more
  • This kit requires an Arduino Uno. If you do not already own an Arduino, purchase one here or here. Basic soldering and assembly skills are required. Tools required that are not included: soldering iron and solder, handheld screwdriver, free Arduino Software.

    Designed for Arduino Uno

    The Official Crow Box Kit is designed to run on Arduino, the Open Source Hardware and Software platform. Download Arduino Software here. Arduino makes it easy to iterate and edit the functions of the Crow Box, as well as share it with others.

    How Does It Work?

    Based on established Skinnerian training principles, the action of the device is divided into four stages:

  • Stage One: Food and Coins Available on Departure.
  • Stage Two: Food and Coins Available On Landing.
  • Stage Three: Coins Available On Landing, Food Available on Deposit.
  • Stage Four: Food Available On Coin Deposit.
  •

    Let us know how it goes! The CrowBox is a community effort; if you keep us posted about your experience with it we can all continue to iterate and improve it for everyone. Email us or contribute in the Forum.