Eagles have been trained to conduct anti-drone operations. As part of a new trial, Holland's police now have eagles that can intercept errant drones.
Eagles are being groomed to take down dangerous or wayward drones. These majestic aerial predators could soon play a vital role in ensuring the skies are cleared of the numerous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) that are increasingly cluttering the skies, putting multiple lives at risk. As part of a new trial, the Dutch National Police force has been training eagles to intercept troublesome drones. The law enforcement officials think using the eagles is a safer technique as compared to using a drone to catch other drones.
Using another capture device -- such as those recently showcased by Japanese officials -- could put people below at risk, reasoned the Dutch police. While the contraption designed by the Japanese relied upon a high tensile synthetic net to snag any errant drones, but some might slip through, become unable to fly and plummet to the ground, possibly injuring the unfortunate soul below who merely happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Another similar risk is that the drone is merely knocked out of the sky or goes completely haywire, causing a lot of damage, depending on where it goes or lands, reported IEEE Spectrum.
An eagle solves the problem entirely. With razor sharp talons, the predator can easily capture and hold on to any prey, be it a fish, rodent, bird, or in this case, a drone. Though drones usually have multiple small rotary propellers, the eagle appears trained at carefully avoiding them and still capturing them, rendering any UAV incapacitated and immobile. Moreover, eagles have powerful toes, which are strong enough grip and carry heavy objects. Eagles regularly target large animals like sheep. Hence a drone could be a tricky, but relatively light prey.
Despite the tough talons, the Dutch police accepts there are chances the drones' propellers might hurt the bird. A spokesperson stated the force will look at ways to better protect their flying counterparts while they conduct trials over the next few months, reported Engadget.
The Dutch Police sought the help of raptor training company Guard From Above to teach an eagle to recognize a DJI drone. The video posted on YouTube shows how an eagle swiftly takes down a drone, without being hurt by the propellers. Once the drone is in sight, the eagle takes off towards its mechanical prey. The video shows the classic attack pose of the eagle as it swoops upon the unfortunate drone, snatching it midair with its scarily enormous talons and then taking the now immobile drone to a safe place.
At present an eagle is one of only two techniques that have proven to reliably work at intercepting rogue UAVs. These "physical" methods are being trialed simultaneously, but a trained aerial hunter that can swiftly maneuver on its own and capture a drone in the blink of an eye gives officers a lot more control. Officials deployed to bring down drones can choose where to the offending UAV can be brought down, instead of chasing and intercepting it.
A quadcopter drone that crashed onto the White House grounds last year highlighted the growing security threat posed by small UAVs, reported Fox News. Incidentally, merely two weeks ago, a drone had managed to fly over the French presidential palace in Paris, raising security concerns.
Drones have become increasingly common in the skies. Many agencies are concerned not just about the safety of large commercial aircraft, but also about privacy, which these UAVs can easily invade. Many Americans are becoming increasingly wary of these miniature flying machines, many of which are equipped with cameras.
[Photo by Adam Jones / Getty Images]