Police in the Netherlands have found the perfect low-tech solution to stop drones flying illegally in their airspace – by training eagles to take them down. As more drones hit the skies, fears increase that they may be a danger to planes, so they are “weaponizing” the birds of prey to sort out the situation.
Eagles have been used for hundreds of years in Asia to hunt down prey, and now Dutch police are doing something similar – using birds of prey to sort out a serious and more modern threat to the skies. The birds have keen eyesight, lethal hunting instincts, and the most powerful talons to sort out a 21st-century problem.
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According to Dutch News, Guard From Above is a company based in The Hague and they were approached by the Dutch police, who had been seeking ways to disable illegally operating drones. While their efforts are still in a testing phase, Dennis Janus, a police spokesman said the use of the eagles to combat drones is now a “very real possibility.”
While he told Reuters it’s a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem and some people think it’s a hoax, the technique has proven to be effective so far.
As the use of drones has increased – with many beneficial aspects coming from the technology – there is also an increase in anti-drone technology. Some companies have created radio jammers and “net-wielding interceptor” drones to disable illegal drones in the sky, but this is not always the answer.
Sjoerd Hoogendoorn is the founder and CEO of Guard From Above and he explained to the media that the Netherlands government has been seeking ways to counter the undesirable use of drones.
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Hoogendoorn said that sometimes a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem “is more obvious than it seems,” adding that in the case of their specially trained birds of prey, the company can offer an “effective solution to a new threat.”
Dutch police released a video on Sunday showing an eagle in a high-speed pursuit of a DJI Phantom, plucking the drone out of the air in its powerful talons. The drone is then disabled as the bird carries it away.
According to a project spokesman, Marc Wiebes, the eagle sees the drone as its prey and takes it away to a safe place where there are no other birds or people.
“That is what we are making use of eagles in this project.”
According to the Mirror Online, the new project comes at an apt time, with a drone narrowly missing a plane flying above the Houses of Parliament in London recently. Reportedly the plane’s pilot said at the time it was “pure luck” they didn’t crash into each other.
Reportedly by using the eagles in the new Dutch project, this may enforce new drone laws which are already in place, stopping the technology from snooping or trespassing where it shouldn’t be flying.
According to Wiebe, camera drones in the Netherlands are being banned as they pose a threat of falling and hitting bystanders as well as the threat to planes and to security.
“There are situations in which drones are not allowed to fly.
“This has almost always to do with security.”
Reportedly plans are also afoot to armor the eagles to prevent them from being injured when taking down the drones. There are also ongoing tests to ensure that the practice has no ill effects on the birds themselves.
Hoogendoorn added that the real problem is that they have to destroy a lot of expensive drones during the testing phase and he said another unknown is how the eagles will fare in a crowd situation.
Testing will continue and reportedly Dutch police will make a decision on whether to go ahead with the project by the end of this year.
You can see the eagle in action, taking down a drone in the video (in the Dutch language) below.