Police in the Netherlands are to use birds of prey to take down hostile unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). In 2015, the number of incidents involving hostile UAVs grew exponentially and the Dutch government has been seeking a solution.
Sometimes, a low-tech solution is the answer to a high-tech problem. Dutch police have therefore contracted the services of Guard From Above, based in the Hague, which uses specially trained birds of prey to accurately and safely intercept hostile UAVs.
Guard From Above uses the birds’ hunting instincts to take on this new and growing problem. Founder and CEO, Sjoerd Hoogendoorn says that by using these birds’ animal instincts, the company can offer an effective solution to this new threat. Co-founder and COO, Ben de Keijzer says that two of the most impressive characteristics of birds of prey are their speed and their power. “They use their strength and speed when they hunt: they arethe masters of the air. By using our special training methods, we can teach them to intercept drones.”
“In the past few years Guard From Above has perfected the techniques of intercepting drones with different kinds and sizes of birds of prey. We are the world’s first company that can bring this unique solution to the market. We are extremely proud of our team and of our birds,” says Sjoerd Hoogendoorn.
It’s no secret that many UAV designers and developers have studied the aeronautics of birds of prey and tried to replicate some of their movements; and anyone who has seen a goshawk, for example, speed through forests, dodging trees to bring down its prey, can easily envisage how such a bird can be used to take down a UAV.
In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey. Their talons have scales, which protect them, naturally, from their victims’ bites. The Dutch National Police has asked the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research to research the possible impact of UAVs on the birds’ claws.
Guard From Above, which has 25 years’ experience in handling birds of prey, prioritizes the health and safety of the birds in its service. The birds hit the UAV in such a way that they are not injured by the motor. Experts believe the birds’ superior vision is largely responsible, as they are able to see the motor and its movement clearly, whereas to humans it would appear as a blur.
Where the birds excel over alternatives such as net capture is that they are able not only to take down the UAV but to retrieve it, providing the handler with vital information and avoiding any dangerously out of control operations, which can happen when a UAV is intercepted but not safely retrieved.
Should the Dutch police’s use of these birds prove successful, it is highly plausible that such raptors, including the Bald Eagle, could be trained in the US for a similar role.