Dutch Police Test Using Raptors to Intercept Errant Drones

With the proliferation of drones has come a rising threat to the security of aircraft as well as the possibility that the aerial devices could be used for crimes, or that they could threaten the safety of stadium crowds.

Among the solutions authorities have attempted to deal with the problem have been using drones to intercept drones and jamming radio frequencies. The Netherlands National Police is looking into the possibility of using birds of prey to snatch drones from the air and take them to a place of safety on the ground.

“An innovative project of the National Police in collaboration with Guard From Above, a company that trains raptors, looks at the ability to turn to birds of prey to intercept undesirable drones,” according to a statement on the police website on January 31.

Screen shot from a the video of an eagle snatching a drone from the air. Dutch National Police.
Screen shot from a the video of an eagle snatching a drone from the air. Dutch National Police.

“There are situations in which drones are not allowed to fly. This has almost always to do with security, “says Mark Wiebes, an innovation manager with the Police. “There is a case where a rescue helicopter wanted to land but could not because someone was flying a drone. You can also imagine that people wanting to create beautiful images of an event could fly a drone above a crowd; if that drone falls from the sky, it can be dangerous for the people.”

Finding the operator of an undesirable drone is not always easy, the police explained, which is why there is a search for electronic solutions, such as taking over the drone’s operating system. “Physical” solutions include using a net to catch a drone, as well as the possibility of deploying raptors trained to do the job.

A demonstration last week showed the police how it might work. Once a trained eagle has the target drone in sight it is released to intercept and bring it to the ground. “The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe area,” Wiebes said.

A decision to use birds of prey to seize undesirable drones is expected in a few months.

This post was translated from Dutch on the National Police website.

Related News: Let’s Not Force Eagles to Fight Rogue Drones

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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  1. Ken Keefover-Ring
    Madison, Wisconsin, USA
    February 10, 11:39 am

    Bald eagles (or any raptor for that matter) should be flying free in nature and not risking its life to correct the errors of stupid people who fly drones.

  2. David Maxwell Braun
    February 2, 9:32 am

    Not if the shot-down drone falls on a crowd.

  3. James Katt
    February 2, 9:11 am

    So some sort of rifle or gun won’t do?