If you're looking to stop a drone in its tracks, these days you've got more than a few options. You could deploy a drone-catching drone, load up a shoulder-mounted net cannon or say, dispatch quadcopter-hunting birds of prey. Yes, after trialling the latter approach for around a year Dutch police are now preparing to welcome eagles into the law enforcement fold, with the animals highly trained to take down drones that pose a threat to the public.
About a year ago, the Dutch National Police teamed up with a company called Guard From Above to explore the potential of using trained eagles to watch over sensitive airspace. Earlier this year it revealed a glimpse of some of its early testing, showing a bird snatching up a hovering quadcopter at an indoor training facility before setting it down in the corner.
It was just a pilot project at that stage, but the testing was such a success that the police force has announced it is now prepared to launch the eagles whenever the situation calls for it. Last Friday it carried out a demonstration where a dignitary emerged from a car with his security personnel in tow, only to have his wellbeing placed in jeopardy by an unmanned quadcopter overhead.
An eagle perched on a nearby building promptly swooped into action, closing in on the drone and taking it out of action. According to the Dutch Police, the birds are trained to see the drone as prey and carry it to a safe place, just as it would its other captors in the wild. It says that the trained birds are ready to spring into action and are being kept at a number of locations around the country.
The scaly claws that protect eagles against bites from their prey also prevent injuries from the drones, according to the police. While they are yet to see evidence of damage to the eagles from the propellors, they say they are in the process of developing special claw protectors to safeguard against larger drones.
You can see a video of the most recent demonstration below.
Source: Dutch National Police