The Dutch National Police has said it is training eagles to capture drones that are being flown into restricted areas of the country by criminals and terrorists.
Drones are gradually becoming common in the Western World, and security experts are worried that criminals might take advantage by using them to carry out illegal activities.
The Dutch Counter-Terrorism Agency, NCTB and the Ministries of Justice and Defense confirmed that other methods to take down potentially dangerous drones were also being considered.
In addition, officials are also looking into the use of high-tech detention systems and equipment which can remotely take over the control of a drone. Another potential measure could also be a drone which is programmed to fire at or capture any unknown or strange drone.
Tech Worm reports that the eagles have been sourced from a raptor training company known as Guard From Above, a bird of prey training company in Denmark.
Police spokesman, Michel Baeten told local media that drones are common to acquire nowadays, and that it is becoming a major concern for the security agencies in the Netherlands.
“Everyone can get hold of a drone, and that includes people who want to misuse them. It is a multi-functional piece of equipment and that means you can launch an attack with them as well,” he said.
Specifically, the eagles are being trained to identify and catch drones known as quadcopters, which are proving increasingly popular in the country. According to the police, a series of tests have already began, and are expected to last for a number of months. Once the tests have been completed, the police will decide whether using trained eagles to tackle the drone security issue is an effective and appropriate means of preventing unwanted drone use.
Innovation manager at the Dutch National Police Unit, Mark Wiebes said drone use is becoming more common, with people using them to take photographs at security zones and other restricted areas. According to him, drones can be dangerous if they fall from the sky and into crowds of people, and drones with built-in cameras pose privacy risks to people. He said, “There are situations in which drones are not allowed to fly. This has almost always to do with security.”
In the video below, you can see a test being conducted on one of the drone catching eagles. The eagle quickly grabs the drone, seizing control from whoever is holding the remote, and brings it to the ground. The project is still in the test phase, but officials are confident that there is a very real possibility that the eagles can be used to bring down unwanted drones.
Mr Wiebes explained: “The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe place, a place where there are no other birds or people. That is what we are making use of in this project. The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe area, a place where he does not suffer from other birds or humans. We use this instinct in this project.”
However, on the other hand, officials are worried about the safety of the eagles as they take down a drone. The multiple rotors each drone has spin very fast and point upwards, meaning they could slice into an eagle’s leg or talons, causing severe injuries to it.
As a result, officials are also considering putting some sort of armor on the legs of the eagles. This armor will protect the eagles from potential drone injury as they do their work.
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