Drones

Drone-catching hexacopter fires a large net to reel in suspicious aircraft

When it spots an illegal aircraft, the predator drone fires a net from as far as 40 ft (12 m) in its direction
When it spots an illegal aircraft, the predator drone fires a net from as far as 40 ft (12 m) in its direction
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View from the captured drone
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View from the captured drone
When it spots an illegal aircraft, the predator drone fires a net from as far as 40 ft (12 m) in its direction
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When it spots an illegal aircraft, the predator drone fires a net from as far as 40 ft (12 m) in its direction

Shotguns, radio beams and firmware updates are just a few of the ways being floated to stop dangerous drones in their tracks. Another appraoach that's starting to gain a bit of traction is drone-catching nets carried by drones themselves. Following the lead of Tokyo police last month, a team of mechanical engineers has devised a retrieval system that captures small drones and carries them unharmed to desired location.

Tokyo's police department made headlines last month when it demonstrated drone-hunting aircraft that tow around large nets, intended to scoop up suspicious aircraft before they can cause any harm. Flown by riot police, the department hopes to use the vehicles to capture drones that may be lurking in sensitive areas, such as the airspace around the Japanese prime minister's office where one unmanned aircraft was intercepted in April last year.

Conceived by Mo Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, this latest system does appear to be a little more sophisticated. Described as "robotic falconry," Rastgaar's solution consists of a large hexacopter with a launching system fitted to its body.

When it spots an illegal aircraft, the predator drone fires a net from as far as 40 ft (12 m) in its direction. After shrouding the smaller drone, the enclosed net is then swung back beneath the larger aircraft with its catch inside and swept away from the area.

View from the captured drone
View from the captured drone

The team says that the net is designed to be large enough to trap even the fastest and most agile of smaller drones, and it can be flown autonomously, piloted by a person on the ground or a combination of both. A patent has been filed for the system with hopes that it could find a variety of uses, such as countering terrorism, spy and drug smuggling operations, and also helping enforce new drone regulations.

"The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has just announced that drones must be registered, and we think the catcher could help enforce the law by catching unregistered drones," says Rastgaar.

You can see the drone-catcher do its thing in the video below.

Source: Michigan Tech

Robotic Falconry - Drone Catcher System for Removing the Intruding Drones

5 comments
Daishi
It's a cool concept but filing a patent for mounting a net gun on a drone is a little like filing a patent for mounting a camera on a drone, or a laser, or a gps, or a video transmitter, or a weapon, or... It's a huge gray area but I have seen judges complain about combining 2 existing products and claiming their combination warrants a unique patent. We already have gun nets meant for taking out drones, we already have dones using nets to capture drones, we already have people using gun nets from helicopters to capture things like wildlife and there is probably other more valid prior art in science fiction or elsewhere. Maybe I should file a patent for using drones for crowd control for firing tear gas canisters or rubber bullets so I can patent troll the government when they inevitably use drones instead of police to help disperse hostile crowds.
MBadgero
"General Kenobi. Years ago you served my father in the Drone Wars. Now he begs you ... must see this droid safely delivered to him on Alderaan. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
Bob Flint
Now the fuel cell drones make more sense, with a flamethrower attachment to ward off nets, and unwanted attacks. Spawn a whole new aerial sport instead of robot battles in an arena they will take to the skies over unused fields.
SuperFool
they need something like this to retire obsolete satellites. instead of reeling them in, they could be whipped toward the atmosphere like a sling.
christopher
Dumb arms race; 10-cents worth of plastic spherical shroud makes the target drone un-catch-able, not to mention, what's to stop the "target" drone catching the police one first? Here's a better idea; stop doing the evil corrupt things that cause those riots in the first place.