The Dutch are using an ingenious, low-cost, totally organic solution to the country’s increasing drone problem – they’re having eagles trained to attack the flying machine as they would their usual prey.
Drones are becoming a major problem all over the world – they block airspace and interfere with official operations like emergency air ambulance landings. Despite regulations, drone operators are able to get away with misuse. They’re often hidden from view, making it very difficult for authorities to detect their exact position and take action against them.
The Dutch police were looking at tech-based solutions like remotely taking control of drone operating systems, but forcing a drone to autoland could backfire as it could go completely out of control. Thankfully, raptor training company ‘Guard From Above’ came up with a much better idea – to make use of eagles’ natural hunting instincts.
Photo: Guard from Above
Guard From Above claims to be the first company in the world to use birds of prey to intercept hostile drones. They’re now assisting the Dutch police force to create a fleet of police eagles that are trained to attack and snatch drones in mid-air using their strong talons. “The eagle sees the drone as its prey,” explained Sjoerd Hoogendoorn, who works for the company. “So he tries to take it to a safe location and guard it once he gets there.”
Photo: video caption
The practicality of the idea is currently being tested – it’ll be a couple of months before they decide if it’s the best solution or not. Eagles are highly skilled at mid-air intercepts, so there isn’t much risk of the drone going out of control or falling on people. But with larger drones the safety of the birds could be a concern – their legs or talons might suffer some damage from large carbon fiber parts. To solve this problem, the company is also working on a protection system for the birds.
Meanwhile, the Dutch police are looking into other electronic solutions as well. But if the eagle program works out, it’ll be cool to have eagles hunting drones, provided the birds don’t get hurt, of course.