Government and law enforcement agencies are getting serious about anti-drone technology, using lasers, jammers, and thermal signals to disable or destroy drone targets. Now, Dutch police are looking at a more traditional approach to the problem…by enlisting the help of eagles.
People have used these birds to hunt down prey for centuries, and now they have their sights set on a different kind of target, a more robotic kind.
Police are partnering with Guard from Above, a Hague-based company labelled as “the world’s first company specialized in training birds of prey to intercept hostile drones.” A spokesman for the police told Dutch News.nl that the method is currently in its testing phase, but said that it’s ultimate use was a “very real possibility.”
In video release by the police, they demonstrate the technique on a quadcopter hovering in a warehouse. A white-tailed eagle is released by its handler as it glides directly towards the drone, clutches it in its talons, and pins it to a corner.
“It’s a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem,” police spokesman Dennis Janus tells Reuters. “People sometimes think it’s a hoax, but it’s proving very effective so far.”
Concerns have been raised as to the safety of the birds when taking down drones with carbon fiber propellers, but the handler in the video says that eagles are protected by the scales around their legs and feet, and also mentions possibly creating additional protection for the birds.
The use of drones is now widespread and has unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, been used in criminal activity. Drones have been used to deliver drugs and other contraband to prison inmates and by burglars to target neighborhood homes.
Governments are also clamping down on consumer drone use and establishing no-fly-zones for drones. The FAA also recently required all drone owners to register their drones to help combat these problems.
It remains to be see how effective the eagles will truly be.