As loss prevention and civil authorities look for new, and better ways to ward off the ever increasing number of drones zipping around our skies, it may be that the Dutch National Police may have come up with something a little unconventional in retail technology trends… the majestic bald eagle.
A Dutch company by the name of “Guard from Above” has been training bald eagles to snatch flying drones out of the sky and quickly and safely dispose of them. The company co-founder Ben de Keijzer says “Two of the most impressive characteristics of birds of prey are their speed and their power,” Sometimes the solution to a hyper-modern problem is more obvious than you might think.”
The problem with drones is getting worse, and increasingly more dangerous according to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). In October 2015, with aircraft pilots reporting over 100 drone sightings a month, the FAA reported that it was testing technology that would counter dangerous drones flying within a 5-mile radius of an airport. The technology reportedly detects radio signals from rogue drones and uses tracking technology to force the drone to land.
In January of this year, nonprofit group Open Briefing also published a report that highlighted how far consumer drones have evolved and how ill prepared authorities currently are to combat them. Countermeasures cited in the report included signal jamming, lasers, and the deployment of missiles, rockets and bullets, where it’s acknowledged there is high risk of collateral damage, and potential for “catastrophic damage” if they miss their target.
So will the bald eagle be pressed into service to combat these drones? Does our fine-feathered crime-fighting idea have legs (or wings) on this side of the world? “It’s got more than that — it’s got talons,” says aviation attorney Enrico Schaefer, “I thought the eagle idea was brilliant. It’s a bird, so it’s unregulated, and an eagle will bring a drone back to the ground so you don’t have to worry about it falling onto someone unless it’s a bigger model.”
With Monday’s announcement by the FAA that more than 325,000 Americans had registered drones since the federal program began in December, and with growing concerns that terrorists could launch a drone attack, Schaefer says cops need more and better ways to stop high-tech rogues, especially those hundreds of feet in the air and made of plastic.
Not only do police and state and federal authorities need ways to protect stadiums and events and even the White House,” he says. “But you have a lot of national security contractors and private companies with very secure operations trying to guard against the kind of espionage that drones can be used for. Interference by drones is also a problem that police, firefighters, and loss prevention professionals are facing more and more and to take down a drone you have almost no way right now to easily do it. Maybe birds are an answer.”