Drone-catching eagles aren’t such a good idea after all

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but police in the Netherlands have now decided to retire its team of eagles that were trained to take down rogue drones.

The low-tech solution first hit the headlines in early 2016 when Dutch cops showed off the seemingly impressive skills of their feathered friends. Drones such as DJI’s Phantom 4 machine were clearly no match for the bird of prey, its sharp talons and equally sharp eyesight able to pinpoint and pluck a drone from the sky in a single, lightning-fast maneuver.

Except that it didn’t always work that way.

According to local media, the eagles didn’t always do what was expected of them, which presumably means they were occasionally distracted by other things happening around them during training sessions. You’re absolutely right, that’s not much good if you’re a cop trying to use an eagle to take down a drone flying precariously in a restricted area.

Also, there hasn’t been much call for the eagles over the last 18 months. This is, of course, a good thing as far as issues of safety and security are concerned, but it’s left the police with unnecessary costs for the birds’ training and upkeep.

The decision to retire the eagles will also please bird lovers who were concerned that the drones, with their fast-spinning propellers, could cause a nasty injury to an eagle if its speedy approach was just a little off. And you only have to ask Enrique Iglesias about the wisdom of trying to pluck a drone from midair, although admittedly he was never trained to the same high level as the eagles.

Now that the birds have flown the nest, so speak, the Dutch authorities will be exploring the options among a rapidly growing selection of high-tech solutions that are far more reliable, and cheaper to maintain, than the eagles.

These include everything from net-firing bazookas and so-called “death ray” machines to anti-drone guns and drone-shield “Sky Fences.”

Such systems can be deployed relatively quickly, and, failing any technical issues, act swiftly to remove a rogue drone from the sky. They certainly won’t get distracted and go targeting a mouse.

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