The Dutch National Police are in the process of working with a private company to train eagles and other raptors to snatch drones from the air.
With the rise in popularity of consumer-grade drones has come an increase in conflicts — whether flying over an emergency scene, hovering near airports, or spying in people’s backyards — drones are increasingly becoming a nuisance for people and governments.
To counter their unwanted presence, a variety of strategies have been deployed including nets and sensor jamming technology, but these can be a danger to people by causing the drones to fall from the sky, possibly onto people or property below.
This is why the Dutch National Police have partnered with a raptor training program, Guard From Above, to develop a new attack strategy that keeps drones out of the air and away from people.
“For years, the government has been looking for ways to counter the undesirable use of drones," Guard From Above's founder and chief executive, Sjoerd Hoogendoorn, said in a statement. “Sometimes a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem is more obvious than it seems. This is the case with our specially trained birds of prey. By using these birds’ animal instincts, we can offer an effective solution to a new threat.”
The company trains eagles and other birds of prey of various kinds and sizes to snatch drones from the sky and bring them to the ground in a secluded area, similar to the way an eagle would catch and eat prey in the wild — which they often eat alive.
While these raptors don’t eat the drones, they do destroy them, which has been a major expense of the training program, Hoogendoorn said, according to Reuters.
There is also some concern that the propellers of the drones could cause harm to these majestic hunters.
According to the Daily News, a handler in the video, claims the birds are adequately protected by scales on their feet and legs, but researchers hope to equip the animals with another layer of defense.
"These birds are used to meeting resistance from animals they hunt in the wild, and they don't seem to have much trouble with the drones," Hoogendoorn told Reuters.
The program is still a work in progress. Wired reports that the Dutch Police will continue tests for several months before deciding whether to implement the eagles full-time.