Drones

Dutch police train drone-hunting eagles

Dutch police train drone-hunti...
The pilot project is expected to run for a few months
The pilot project is expected to run for a few months
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Dutch police have enlisted the help of a raptor training company called Guard From Above to help safeguard sensitive airspace
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Dutch police have enlisted the help of a raptor training company called Guard From Above to help safeguard sensitive airspace
The pilot project is expected to run for a few months
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The pilot project is expected to run for a few months

Drones are certainly getting smarter and more capable, but can they outwit one of nature's most menacing airborne predators? The Dutch National Police is banking on a bird of prey to come up trumps in a dogfight between new and old inhabitants of the sky, so it is training a fleet of eagles to help quell the risk of dangerous unmanned aircraft.

In October 2014, a drone owner was taking his vehicle for a spin above Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when a wild hawk swooped in with its talons outstretched and knocked the aircraft out of the sky. The encounter was caught on the device's camera, and served as a cautionary tale of what can happen when drones wander into the domain of these natural predators.

So it is therefore not much of a leap to assume that with professional training, birds of prey could serve a pretty useful purpose in helping to clear the skies of rogue aircraft. To this end, the Dutch police have enlisted the help of a raptor training company called Guard From Above to help safeguard sensitive airspace.

Some recent examples where drones have posed a threat to public safety include stifling firefighting efforts in California, a crash landing on the White House lawn and lurking around the prime minister's office in Japan. Some other approaches to stopping dangerous drones include firing nets to rein them in, radio beams to disable their control channels and firmware updates from manufactures that block flights in certain areas.

In a recent demonstration, the Guard From Above team unleashed a trained eagle in an indoor training facility, where a poor defenseless quadcopter was hovering several meters off the ground. The bird flew straight for the drone, snaffling the frame in its claws and set it down in the corner, all in one smooth motion.

And how does the eagle feel about all of this? Guard From Above says that the talons have scales to protect them when they come into contact with prey, but it has requested the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research to further investigate the potential hazards to the bird's well being.

The pilot project is expected to run for a few months, after which the Dutch Police will decide whether or not to go ahead and deploy a fleet of drone-hunting eagles to keep watch over its skies.

You can see the birds in flight in the Dutch-language video below.

Source: Dutch National Police, Guard From Above

Politie zet roofvogels in om vijandige drones uit de lucht te halen

9 comments
Gaëtan Mahon
I once flew my Quad equipped with 15" CF Props into a tree and it chopped of a twig the diameter of a grown up mans thumb. Now ask yourself if this is a good idea for the wellbeing of an animal with claws, legs or bones in general thinner than said twig. The best case scenario is a Bird returning as an amputee, the worst case scenario is raw Chicken Sashimi falling from the skies.
alan c
A propeller on a model aircraft or drone with just 100 watts behind it can cut human flesh to the bone, so this seems to be treating the eagle as a disposable item.
jproffer
This is a great idea. However, the problem I see, is that it introduces high potential of maiming the birds - drone propellers are extremely fast and sharp, and can slice through the bird's skin and tendons.
Qfman
Likely to get a visit from PETA!
JJEmerald
If only we had some sort of robotic eagle that could be programmed to go after drones...
Island Architect
Using Bald iggles in Europe??? Well, they do look better. b
christopher
Here's a better idea: if you're doing something that you don't want a drone to see you doing, maybe... stop doing it? An anti-drone arms race is not one that any cops are going to win, so they're just going to have to stop selling drugs and beating protesters now.
MD
Yep for anything more powerful than a you, while the eagle can upset the uav controller and crash the craft (danger to bystanders), the eagle risks harm from the blades (some larger (still relatively small) copters may have up to 5kW per rotor). Why are they using an American bald eagle? maybe because European Golden Eagles are too valuable/endangered to harm.
warren52nz
This will be OK in the USA. Apparently they don't care about the wellbeing of Bald Eagles, their national symbol: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtHDV_hxBrY