Dutch police are planning to use eagles to hunt down and disable intrusive drones


Last year, we introduced you to Rapere, a innovative concept drone that is capable of intercepting other ‘intrusive’ drones, with the help of a special wire mechanism. A lot has happened since then, with the number of recreational drone pilots soaring like never before. Events, like the Drone Racing League, have transformed what was previously just a pastime for kids in urban areas into a nationwide obsession.

As is expected, cases of drone-related accidents and crashes have also increased dramatically in the last few years. According to the Dutch police, as many as 27 of such incidents were reported by the middle of 2015, which is quite a jump from the 15 cases that occurred during the entire year of 2013. Worried that the nuisance will escalate if unchecked, the country’s police have been training eagles to hunt down drones that enter restricted airspace.

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Described as a “low-tech solution to a high-tech problem”, the initiave, authorities believe, will help reduce the occurrence of future incidents involving drones landing too close to buildings and people. To that end, Netherlands’ police force has joined hands with Guard From Above, a company that specializes in raptor training. At present, the team is working with bald and white-tailed eagles, coaching them to recognize these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) as prey.

The department recently released a video that shows an eagle swooping down on a small four-propeller drone, capturing it with its talons and carrying it back to the ground. Known for their agility, these birds, the police think, could make great drone-hunters, capable of intercepting and hijacking the contraptions, without incurring any injury themselves. Speaking about the initiative, Sjoerd Hoogendoorn of the Guard from Above said:

These birds are used to meeting resistance from animals they hunt in the wild, and they don’t seem to have much trouble with the drones.

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If proved effective, this ingenious drone-hunting technique could be used to stop small UAVs that run the risk of going out of control. The Dutch police have until the end of this year to determine if the birds will indeed be helpful in taking rogue drones down. While many have expressed concerns about the eagles’ safety, Geoff LeBaron of the National Audubon Society believes that their precise sense of timing and powerful eyesight will likely protect the birds from any kind of physical harm. He added:

What I find fascinating is that birds can hit the drone in such a way that they don’t get injured by the rotors. They seem to be whacking the drone right in the centre so they don’t get hit; they have incredible visual acuity and they can probably actually see the rotors.

Via: The Two-Way

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