High-tech Japan has opted for a surprisingly low-tech approach for dealing with remotely controlled copters caught flying over important sites in the nation’s capital.
The solution? Drones with nets. That’s right, forget drone-destroying “death ray” machines and advanced geofencing systems designed to help the authorities keep the skies safe. Tokyo cops have instead decided it’s a better idea to use a large net-equipped drone to ensnare suspicious multi-rotor machines caught flying over the city.
The move follows a major security scare in Tokyo earlier this year when a drone carrying radioactive material landed on the roof of the prime minister’s office in an apparent political protest.
Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has been training up a special drone unit to watch over the prime minister’s office, as well as the country’s parliament building, the Imperial Palace, and other high-profile locations scattered throughout the capital.
The MPD said that using a net meant there was little chance of targeted drones dropping from the sky and possibly causing injury to innocent bystanders.
If the specially trained unit spots a rogue copter flying in a restricted zone, the operator will attempt to catch it using a three-meter-by-two-meter net attached to a six-rotor drone, believed to be DJI’s professional Spreading Wings S900 machine. On its website, DJI describes the S900 hexacopter as “highly portable, lightweight, strong, and stable.” Perfect, then, for taking down smaller drones.
In a recent demonstration of its system (shown above), we can see the net hanging down from the cops’ flying machine as it whizzes after its target. The smaller copter is swiftly taken out of action as its propellers become caught in the net’s mesh.
“Terrorist attacks using drones carrying explosives are a possibility,” a senior member of the police department’s Security Bureau told the Asahi Shimbun, adding, “We hope to defend the nation’s functions with the worst-case scenario in mind.”
The new drone unit will be deployed at one location this month before expanding to more sites in February. The department’s somewhat unique approach to drone security was announced as the country rolled out new laws governing the use of the increasingly popular unmanned aerial vehicles.