Dutch Police Train Eagles to Tackle Drones

A new way for law enforcement to patrol the skies.

Feb 1 2016, 2:45pm

Sometimes low-tech solutions can turn out to be the most effective. Take, for instance, this example of using eagles to take down unruly drones.

In a new project to patrol the skies, the Dutch national police force has teamed up with 'Guard from Above,' a company that trains birds of prey to tackle drones. They aim to create a fleet of eagles that can take to the skies and prey on drones that infringe air space or hamper official operations such as emergency air ambulance landings. According to Guard from Above, the goal is to draw on the bird's "hunting instincts" to make them hunt down drones.

A video released on Sunday on the Dutch police's official YouTube channel shows an eagle making a beeline for a drone and grabbing it from above, before plonking it in the corner of an indoor training facility.

"The eagle sees the drone as its prey, so he tries to take it to a safe location and guard it once he gets there," says Sjoerd Hoogendoorn from Guard from Above in the video.

As drone operators can often be occluded from view, it's not always easy to detect their whereabouts and reprimand them in situ. According to the Dutch police's press release, the police are therefore looking for electronic solutions, like "remotely taking over the operating systems [of the drone], but also 'physical' options to stop unwanted drone use."

In this case, specially trained eagles tricked into thinking that drones are prey.

Birds of prey have proven useful in other technological missions. For example, European Space Agency researchers in Spain make use of falcons to protect deep space antennas.

The Dutch police are currently only testing out whether using birds of prey is the best form of tackling drones. They'll decide in a few months if having a fleet of eagle patrollers is indeed the best method of enforcing some law and order in the skies.