Police officers in the Netherlands are partnering with eagles to take down illegal unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as drones.
Dutch National Police Corps announced on Sunday (Jan. 31) that they will start using predatory birds (or raptors) to intercept illegal or unwanted drones.
Guard from Above (GFA) – a Dutch raptor-training company located in The Hague, which specialises in training birds of prey to intercept hostile drones – has partnered with the Dutch National Police to develop and test the new program.
The National Police Corps posted a video in which a handler releases an eagle that flies towards a drone hovering indoors, snatches it, and then goes with into a corner of the training ring.
Mark Wiebe, an innovation manager of the National Unit of the police, said that the eagles were trained to react to drones as they would to normal prey. The birds grab the machine while it is in flight, and then immediately take it to the ground.
Sjoerd Hoogendoorn, co-founder of Guard from Above, stated that the government has been looking for efficient ways to intercept hostile unmanned aerial vehicles for years now. In this case, a low-tech solution – trained birds of prey – for a high-tech problem – drones – appeared to be very efficient, he explained. Using the eagles’ predatory instincts, illegal unmanned aerial vehicles can be kept under control, Hoogendoorn added.
The bird in the video posted by the National Police Corps is a golden eagle (Aquila chrysaetos). It is one of the most iconic birds of prey in the Northern Hemisphere and the most widely distributed species of eagle.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, golden eagles are very powerful birds that usually hunt smaller prey. That being said, they are also able to fight off larger mammals, like coyotes of bears, when defending their young or their prey.
Illegal drones can be used for criminal purposes, can injure bystanders, and interfere with helicopter flights, which is why the Dutch police are trying to figure out different methods to keep them under control, according to Wiebe. In December 2015, the Tokyo police tested safety nets.
After the test period ends, the Dutch police will make their final decision about keeping the birds of prey as a permanent animal partner to help them deal with hostile drones.
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