Holland Laughs at Japan’s Net Drones, Trains Eagles to Take Down Unwanted UAVs

Eagle catching drone 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
It seems the proliferation of drones has struck a sensible chord with the authorities, who are having a hard time keeping these nosy flying remote controlled vehicles under control.
It doesn’t take an Orwellian government to feel a little threatened by the public’s ability to drop in unexpected pretty much anywhere they like, so the powers that be must think they need to do something about it. And it’s not even just about their privacy: they have the obligation to make sure we keep our own as well.

All countries are starting to tackle the matter in all seriousness. The US, for example, has come up with a mandatory registration process for all drone owners that’s already in effect, and while we don’t exactly know the penalty for flying an unregistered UAV, we’re pretty sure you don’t want to be caught doing that.

By comparison, Japan has opted for a more hands-on approach. They have created a special police force that basically flies drones for a living. These men patrol the areas the authorities declared drone-free and if they spot such a vehicle in the sky, they take action. First, they ask nicely to leave the area. If that fails (and we’d assume they hope it does), they launch their own drone, only this one carries a net devised to catch the perpetrator like the flying fish that it is.

Well, Japanese police is soon going to have to take a step back and bow in front of their Dutch counterparts who have taken things one step feather. Sorry, further. They are training real flesh, bones and feathers eagles to catch these devices in mid-air. Say what?

It does make sense. The eagles are natural predators, and while their genes didn’t really teach them to feed on plastic and cables, it’s not that hard to convince them to grab something smaller than them that’s flying. And by the thuggish look on their faces, they probably wouldn’t back down even if the drones were bigger.

I know, being the animal lover type, your first question will be about the possibility that the spinning propellers will hurt the animals. It would appear that they don’t, as mother nature proves once again it’s a lot better at designing things than we are. The scales on the eagles’ talons are enough to protect them.

The project is being carried out by a company very appropriately called Guard from Above, which has an equally fitting slogan: “A low tech solution to a high tech problem.” We have no idea what the state of the program is, but you have to ask yourself a few questions: isn’t releasing a bald eagle in the middle of a populated area much more dangerous than having a human-controlled drone flying there? What if it decides that the pretty little chihuahua taking a walk is a much more tempting proposal than the cold, hard, humming drone? Or what if it just says “thanks for all the fish” and then flies away?

Still, the prospect of police forces walking around with eagles on their shoulders through the crowded squares of Holland’s old cities sounds very enticing. Besides, the only better option they could have found was to convince pigeons to act like kamikaze projectiles, thus taking care of two problems at the same time: the irritating drones and the bird poop all over the city.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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