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Dutch Police Unleash Drone-Killing Eagles

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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Birds of prey trained to take down drones that pose a threat to public safety

The growing number of unauthorised drones might soon have to face an unorthodox new law enforcement force focused on keeping cities safe.

Dutch national police have revealed they are training eagles to take out airborne vehicles that could pose a threat to public safety as the products enjoy a boom in popularity.

The force is working with a company called ‘Guard from Above’ to train the birds, which are able to attack the drones without hurting themselves due to their strong claws and talons.

Effective

drone“It’s a low-tech solution to a high-tech problem,” Dutch police spokesman Dennis Janus said, “People sometimes think it’s a hoax, but it’s proving very effective so far.”

The plans are still in a concept stage, as it’s not known how the birds would fare in a crowded location, but a decision by police on whether to move ahead with using the eagles is expected by the end of the year.

“The real problem we have is that they destroy a lot of drones,” said Sjoerd Hoogendoorn of Guard from Above, “It’s a major cost of testing.”

The birds need to be trained to identify the drones as an enemy, and one that fights back, Hoogendoorn said, although their welfare is monitored by an external company.

“These birds are used to meeting resistance from animals they hunt in the wild, and they don’t seem to have much trouble with the drones,” he said.

The potential security risks of drones have become a growing concern for police forces across Europe as the devices become more and more popular.

Back in August, two flights from New York’s JFK airport narrowly avoided colliding with drones recently, with the vehicles coming dangerously close to commercial planes.

Recent research by the University of Birmingham highlighted the privacy, safety and indeed security risks of drones over the next 20 years, especially as the aircraft could be possibly used by terror groups to attack public events.

Currently, drones can only be used in the UK within sight of the operator and with permission of the Civil Aviation Authority.

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