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Net-Wielding Interceptor Drones to Police the Skies Above Tokyo

What It Is

Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department has unveiled a net-equipped interceptor drone that will be used to chase down and capture rogue quadcopters. This comes as a response to the possible threat of aerial attacks in the future, stemming from an incident when a drone carrying a tiny amount of radioactive sand was flown onto the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office as an act of protest.

A single drone will initially be deployed on a trial basis from mid-December onwards. By February 2016, more comprehensive operation will be introduced, with drone squads being sent to guard important buildings, such as the Imperial Palace, the National Diet (where Japan’s parliament meets), and the prime minister’s office.

“Terrorist attacks using drones carrying explosives are a possibility,” a member of the police department’s Security Bureau said in a release. “We hope to defend the nation’s functions with the worst-case scenario in mind.”

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How It Is Done

The six-rotor interceptor drone carries a net that measures 3m-by-2m, and will only be dispatched once an unauthorized drone has been seen. Police officers on the ground will use loudspeakers to warn the drone’s controller and request that they leave the area.

The use of a net to trap other quadcopters was reportedly decided on as it lessened the chance of an aircraft injuring civilians by falling from the sky.

Several government and commercial entities are considering solutions to the same problem of enforcing countermeasures for consumer drones in the West, though Japan’s police force may be one of the first law enforcement agencies to do so.

In November, drone maker DJI introduced new geofencing capabilities to prevent its products from flying in restricted airspace, while US companies have come up with a number of methods, including net-firing guns and illegal radar jamming devices.

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