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Eagles a talonted adversary for rogue drones

Tuesday, February 02, 2016 - 00:38

A Dutch company and local police are collaborating to train eagles to capture and remove drones that pose a public safety threat. Rough Cut - subtitled (no reporter narration).

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ROUGH CUT (no reporter narration) STORY: Dutch police puzzling over how to remove drones that pose a public safety threat are testing a way to get the job done in one fell swoop: with trained eagles. It's a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem, says the banner advertising the start-up company "Guard from Above," whose founder and CEO Sjoerd Hoogendoorn has come to the idea to train and use eagles to intercept unlicensed drones flying into sensitive air space or above a public event such as a politician's appearance. The birds are trained to see drones as pray and are rewarded with a piece of meat after each successful foray. Hoogendoorn said the eagles' scaly talons are strong and tough enough to seize most consumer-grade drones without injury from the blades. "The birds are naturally protected from bites of prey by scales on their talons so that's a natural protection that the eagle has," Hoogendoorn said. The entrepreneur added he potential impact on the animals' welfare is subject of testing by an external scientific research institute. "The Dutch police asked their research institute TNO (Toegepast Natuurwetenschappelijk Onderzoek ; Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) to research the impact on the claws of the birds and also we are looking into extra protective measures to protect the talons of the birds because animal welfare is key to us," Hoogendoorn said. "Guard from Above is the first company in the world specialised in training birds of pray to intercept all sorts of drones," Hoogendoorn added. Hoogendoorn said his company works in close collaboration with Dutch police on the project. "We are collaborating with the Dutch police, that's a strong partner and we are working together in implementing the solution," he said. As amateur use of drones is booming and police and anti-terrorism officials considered ways to respond if it poses a security problem, Hoogendoorn's eagles seemed a perfect solution to consider. "The biggest problem at this time is the wind to train, because the bird doesn't have a problem with the wind, but the drones do," Hoogendoorn said. Other options under study by the Dutch police include shooting nets at the offending drones, remotely hacking them to seize their controls. A decision by police on whether to move ahead with using the eagles is expected by the end of the year.

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Eagles a talonted adversary for rogue drones

Tuesday, February 02, 2016 - 00:38