Enlisting Eagles to Take Down Drones

Margherita Olivo
February 6th 2016

An eagle clutching a flying drone is probably not a scene that you see everyday, unless you live in the Netherlands. That's right, because to defend the safety of citizens, the Dutch police launched an experimental program to test if it is possible to use eagles or other predatory birds to efficiently seize with the maximum promptness any drone out of control or driven a bit too unscrupulously by the owners.

This move may seem exaggerated but, given the boom of these objects, it is not a so far-fetched hypothesis that accidents are bound to grow. You cannot expect everyone to be so farsighted to go to the countryside to safely fly its drone. The raptors are led by instinct to seize prey in midair and are fast enough not to miss any aircraft, however, it still remains to be seen whether this activity may be harmful, not only for citizens, but for the birds. The risk of losing a paw through the fault of the propellers is not to be underestimated.

This is not an isolated case, many other law enforcement agencies around the world are asking for some advice to solve similar problems: drones may, for example, disturb or prevent certain police operations or maneuvers. This operation of the Dutch Police is in collaboration with Guard from Above, a company specializing in training of birds of prey. The trial, in the Netherlands, will take several months and we have to wait until then to have a final decision on the possibility of using eagles for this purpose. Guard From Above’s chief executive officer Sjoerd Hoogendoorn described the project in a press release as “a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem”.

“What I find fascinating is that birds can hit the drone in such a way that they don’t get injured by the rotors” said the director of the organization Christmas Bird Count, Geoff LeBaron. “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”.

Source: The Guardian, Image: Shutterstock

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