Drones are so cheap and commonplace nowadays that they are becoming a hazard in many places, and officials have limited options for taking down menacing quadcopters buzzing around in restricted areas. That's why the Dutch National Police in the Netherlands have decided to turn to nature to solve the problem. They are training birds of prey to hunt and take down unauthorized drones right out of the sky, reports IEEE Spectrum.
The team of professional trainers, that operates under the company name of Guard From Above, has coached a whole fleet of eagles capable of striking drones in midair. The birds then carry them to a safe area where officials can dismantle them. The eagles are remarkably efficient, and treat the drones like easy prey. You can watch a video of the eagles in action here (though it's in Dutch):
Those concerned with the safety of the eagles, especially considering all the spinning blades found on flying copter drones, can rest assured, according to trainers.
"In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey. Their talons have scales, which protect them, naturally, from their victims’ bites. Of course, we are continuously investigating any extra possible protective measures we can take in order to protect our birds," according to Guard From Above.
One of the advantages of using birds to hunt drones is that their aerial acrobatics are far superior to any sort of man-made technology, plus as living creatures they are intelligent and adaptable. Also, because the eagles can snatch the drones right out of the air without any sort of collision, there is no falling debris that might be a danger to those walking on the ground below, such as would be the case if the drones were shot out of the sky, for instance.
For those who keep abreast with viral animal videos online, this story might remind you of this YouTube sensation, which showcases an eagle in Australia taking down a drone from the point of view of the drone camera. This aerial takedown was courtesy of a wild eagle operating on its own, with no affiliation with Guard From Above or any other eagle trainers — it's just an eagle doin' its thing. But it goes to show that intercepting drones may actually come more naturally to birds of prey than you might have otherwise assumed.
Police dogs are pretty fantastic as companion animals are concerned. Police eagles might just take police-animal pairings to a whole new level, though.