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Lakeland’s Crime Swan Song

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A new addition to the royal swan family will be released on Lake Morton next year. Wildlife researchers looking to learn more about Lakeland’s swan population have teamed up with the county and area colleges to fund and create robotic swans. Project Roboswan is officially underway with the A.I. swans to be activated and released in June 2021. Will this project mean the swan song of crime in Lakeland?

The Swan Hereditary Institute looks to gain a deeper perspective on the eating, mating, and social habits of swans in an urban environment. Executive Director of the Institute, Janet Peters said, “We want to observe the animal in its natural habitat, without the influence or stress of direct human intervention. Logically, our first thought was robots.”

The robotic swans were engineered by students in the robotics program at Florida Polytechnic University to be indistinguishable from their biological counterparts. “Science has come a long way – robotics has come a long way,” said leader of the department, Ronald P. Swanson. Lakeland-based illustrator Bump Galletta was commissioned to draft the roboswans’ sleek electronic endoskeleton. 

The “animals” are designed using highly realistic synthetic feathers and will have regulated body temperature, a prerecorded range of swan calls for different interactions and scenarios, and even have sensors that release a natural swan musk. This is all to allow the real royal swans to accept roboswans into their bevy. Roboswans will record and collect data that will be immediately sent back to the Swan Hereditary Institute. The institute plans to publish their findings.

To justify the cost of building and maintaining roboswans, the birds will also be equipped to fight crime – more specifically to issue traffic citations around the lake.

Radar technology within the eyes of each roboswan is capable of comprehending if a vehicle is parked in a no-parking zone or is over the time on their meter. Roboswan will create a citation that prints beneath its tail to be waddled over and placed on the offending vehicle’s windshield.

In the case of speeders, the roboswan will record the license plate number, date, time, and speed detected and will send that information in real-time to the county who will issue a ticket via mail. The process is similar to running a red-light with a camera or going through a toll booth without paying.

Roboswan cam footage will be streamed directly to Sheriff Grady Judd’s cell phone so he can “keep an eye on crime, and because he’s a big fan of birds,” according to a source close to the sheriff.

Roboswans are also equipped with the weaponry to stop or deter more serious crimes. “It’s really neat,” said one robotics major responsible for weaponizing the birds. “Beneath each wing is an M79 grenade launcher capable of quite a bit of damage.”

Some worried citizens have pondered why they choose to go with such a heavy-duty weapon. “Swans are small in size compared to the average criminal – unless the criminal is very short and chunky. We wanted to give roboswan a fighting chance. Plus, a grenade launcher? Can you get any cooler than that?”

The anonymous engineer added, “I got the idea while watching Terminator. In fact, I voted we call this project: The Swaninator 2: Judgement Day, but that didn’t catch on with the focus group.”

Though the concept hasn’t yet been implemented, the city is already toying with the idea of selling off the real royal swans to opt for the robotic version. “Maintaining the health and wellbeing of Lakeland’s swans is costly to the taxpayer,” said one city councilwoman. “Swans are great, but from an ROI standpoint, roboswans just make the most sense here.”

Ronald P. Swanson noted there were a few “minor hitches” in the design process. He said, “For instance, they randomly explode. We have not been able to fix that yet and don’t anticipate that we will be able to by the summer of 2021. We urge the public to stay at least 20 yards away from them for fear you might blow up.”

Because roboswans will be indistinguishable from biological swans, engineers and law enforcement say don’t take your chances feeding the swans on Lake Morton. Swanson concluded, “These things are ticking time bombs, but if we can write a few tickets and learn more about the swan population on Lake Morton – I’d say the pros outweigh the cons – with the con being: spontaneous explosion.”

If Project Roboswan takes off for Lakeland, the city could potentially adopt the Robogator concept that has already been a success on the east side of the county. For questions or concerns regarding Project Roboswan, contact Ronald P. Swanson or Leslie Knope with Lakeland Parks and Rec at

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