Company Using Trained Eagles to Take Down Drones

Dutch Police via AP

With the rapid increase — and potential misuse — of drones filling the skies, authorities have been working to find effective countermeasures for the unmanned aircraft. The latest tactic? Trained eagles.

The most elementary method of combating troublesome drone activity is to jam the corresponding satellite signals, causing them to crash. When that doesn’t work, authorities have to get creative.

DeTect and DroneShield take pacifist approaches to drone regulation, using different approaches to do essentially the same thing: detect, locate, and warn concerned parties about the presence of drones in restricted spaces.

Maldrone is malware specifically designed for drones — originally intended to showcase potential security concerns within the drones themselves, it’s also very capable of corrupting a drone from within, literally crashing its system.

If you you want an indication of how far the whole counter-drone business has gone, consider this: Dr. Mo Rastgaar and a team of researchers at Michigan Tech have developed an ingenious net-launching counter-drone as an alternative to sniper rifles. Yes, sniper rifles.

But “Guard From Above,” a Dutch company co-founded by Sjoerd Hoogendoom and Ben de Keijzer, has decided to combat the looming threat of tiny plastic helicopters in a decidedly less technological — but way cooler — manner. They want to use eagles.

Self-described as the first of its kind worldwide, the Dutch company specializes in training birds of prey to intercept drones. The Dutch Police love the idea and have already managed to train one of the feathered deputies to locate and neutralize drones.

With over 25 years as a bird handler and trainer, de Keijzer understands the unique animal instinct of a bird of prey and feels that using these powerful animals is a “low-tech solution for a high-tech problem.”

“Two of the most impressive characteristics of birds of prey are their speed and their power. They use their strength and speed when they hunt: they are the masters of the air. By using our special training methods, we can teach them to intercept drones,” says Hoogendoom.

The only real concern is injury to the birds themselves. While an eagle’s powerful talons are great for snatching drones out of the air, the spinning blades put them at risk of serious injury. As the force continues testing, they will also try to find a way to protect their aerial agents from harm.

Armored attack police eagles? I think I know how the United States needs to spend its defense budget. We can’t let the Dutch beat us on this one.

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