As the number of drones in the air steadily increases, the skies over towns and cities are becoming more and more of a…danger zone. This means that greater governmental regulation is called for, as well as new tactics and devices for taking down UAVs in an emergency situation. This is where the Dutch National Police and a fleet of highly trained eagles swoop into the picture.
While practical, fun, and innovative drone use — FPV racing, aerial light shows, hands-free selfies, and fruit ninja-ing — is prevalent and positive, there are many potential dangers, as well as annoyances, posed by remote-controlled aircraft. They could be used to invade privacy, or as a terrorist weapon. To address these concerns, the Dutch National Police have teamed up with Guard from Above, “the first company in the world to use birds of prey to intercept hostile drones.”
In the above video, members of the the Dutch National Police and Guard from Above (a company associated with The Hague), demonstrate how one of their trained eagles can decisively take down a drone and carry it away to a safe spot. This is important because if a drone were to be used as a weapon, defensive measures would need to include not only disabling it, but also removing it away from its intended target. It’s also important for a disabled drone to not fall on anybody’s head.
And while it appears that these specialized eagles have exactly zero problems nailing small drones in midair (they’ve been honed by evolution long before they were honed by humans after all), there are still questions about how they would handle larger drones, as well as concerns about the birds’ safety. In response to these issues, Guard from Above says in their FAQ that “In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey. Their talons have scales, which protect them, naturally, from their victims’ bites. Of course, we are continuously investigating any extra possible protective measures we can take in order to protect our birds.”
If the drone-killing eagles are indeed proficient and protected as sentinels of the sky, the question then becomes, how realistic is it to scale this strategy up? It seems unlikely that the world’s police departments would expend the resources necessary to keep eagles at the ready, especially when drones that can capture other drones via projectile net already exist.
You can check out the net-shooting drone, as well as a complimentary slow-mo look at Guard from Above’s eagle taking down its “prey,” in the videos below.
What do you think about the Dutch National Police and their effort to train eagles to take down hostile drones? Let us know in the comments section below!
HT: IEEE Spectrum
Image: Guard from Above