The best defense against drones? Eagles. There’s a reason these majestic birds are the emblem of the United States, and now, they’re proving their mettle in the Netherlands, where they’re being trained to take out illegal drones. Seriously.
Taking a novel approach to the burgeoning problem of unsanctioned drones, the Dutch National Police have started training these predatory birds to hunt down quadcopters as though they were prey. It’s the ultimate in nature versus man-made machine, and to be honest, it’s pretty epic to watch.
While other anti-drone tactics have included radio jammers and interceptor drones outfitted with their own nets, this latest approach is perhaps the most impressive to watch. After all, it’s not every day that you get to see an eagle attack a drone in mid-air.
While this may seem a bit like overkill, law enforcement agents the world over are growing increasingly concerned that drones will present a problem in certain situations, especially during emergencies. Already in the United States, drones have created issues during fire-fighting missions, and the Dutch feel they are merely being proactive in their crisis planning.
With the help of Guard From Above, a Danish raptor-training company, eagles have been trained to identify and attack drones, and then land in a “safe space” away from humans. This approach, experts say, is safer than most others because the eagle has full control over the drone during the entirety of the operation, ensuring that the quadcopter doesn’t plummet to Earth and injure someone on its way.
Of course, there are still issues with this plan. The alarmingly strong talons of the eagle — which are enough to rip through flesh — may do some serious damage to the drones, and moreover, the drones could also injure the eagles (drone rotors aren’t exactly what eagles are used to grabbing onto). Researchers are apparently looking into safety mechanisms to protect these majestic animals, and testing will continue over the next few months to see whether or not eagles really are the best suited defenses to unauthorized flying objects. Until then, enjoy the footage.