London Wants Drone-Hunting Eagles, Too

There are growing concerns in the UK over drones being used to commit crimes and near-misses at airports.

The Metropolitan Police force in London is considering using eagles to hunt rogue drones in the sky. This idea comes amid growing concerns over drones being used to commit crimes and drones flying too close to airplanes.

According to the BBC, the Ministry of Justice reported nine attempts to use drones to infiltrate prisons in England and Wales in the first five months of 2015. And the UK Air Proximity Board reported the involvement of drones in four near-misses at UK airports in 2015.

London isn’t alone in thinking eagles could potentially hunt rogue drones. At the end of January 2016, the Dutch National Police released a video showing an eagle grabbing a quadcopter in mid-air and taking it to the ground. According to the Dutch National Police, the advantage of using eagles to capture rogue drones is that “you don’t have to worry about the drone taking off out of control or falling on people.”

The question that remains for both London and the Netherlands, however, is what danger, if any, does this pose to the eagles?

“Eagles are big, powerful birds; they should not be flown in built-up areas,” says Jemima Parry-Jones,  director of the International Centre of Birds of Prey in Gloucestershire. “And secondly in terms of the safety of the bird, you’re asking it to grab hold of a drone, which often have four rotating blades keeping it in the air.

“If the police in the UK are asking the right experts they should listen to our advice. If you don’t believe us, try putting your own fingers into the propeller of a reasonably sized drone and see what happens.”

A Met Police spokesman said: “As would be expected in an organization that is transforming, we take an interest in all innovative new ideas and will of course be looking at the work of the Dutch police use of eagles.”

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
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