Where eagles no longer dare. Switzerland cancels its drone busting eagle duo, over uncertain success rates and safety concerns
Five years after Dutch police stopped using eagles to takedown rogue drones, authorities in Switzerland have followed suite.
The Register reported the Geneva Cantonal Police as telling a local newspaper, that its so-called “eagle brigade” project has been cancelled.
The Swiss eagles, reportedly called Altair and Draco, began mid-air anti-drone operations in 2017 in order to protect dignitaries in the city.
Where eagles dare
It seems that local police believe that safety concerns for the eagles themselves, plus technical improvements, played a role in the demise of the avian protection squadron.
“The technological and strategic improvements in terms of the use of drones make this project using raptors too uncertain, even dangerous for the physical integrity of the eagles,” the Geneva Cantonal Police were quoted by the Register as telling the Le Matin Dimanch Sunday newspaper.
According to the Register, the Geneva police had brought the eagle eggs and hatched them.
Altair and Draco were then trained by a falconer on how to intercept rogue drones.
Umberto Nassini, who led Geneva’s Falcom Association, reportedly told the news Sunday newspaper that the closure of the project was disappointing.
“This represents around 100,000 francs of investment and hundreds of hours of work,” he reportedly said.
This is not the first time that eagles have been used to bring down drones.
In February 2016 for example Dutch police trained eagles to take down drones that pose a threat to public safety.
The Dutch police worked with a company called ‘Guard from Above’ to train the birds, which were able to attack the drones without hurting themselves due to their strong claws and talons.
The police even purchased four sea eagle chicks to train them.
However in late 2017 Dutch police revealed they had stopped using eagles, because training them was more expensive and complicated than they had anticipated.
And it seems the eagles wouldn’t always do what they were trained to do.
And in certain countries, the issue of drones and local bird life has caused some issues.
In September 2021 for example Google’s Project Wing delivery drones in Australia faced an unexpected challenge.
It was reported that ‘territorial’ ravens were attacking the delivery drones of Google Wing in Australia’s capital city of Canberra.
Google it should be remembered in April 2019 launched the world’s first commercial drone delivery service in Australia.
The Wing drones typically delivered takeaway food, coffee and medicines by drone to about 100 homes in Canberra.
However Wing paused flights in the northern suburb of Harrison while bird experts assess the behaviour of local ravens to ensure their welfare was safeguarded.
Harrison resident Ben Roberts, who has been taking advantage of Wing deliveries during one of the Covid-19 lockdowns, captured a stunning video of a raven attacking a Wing drone that was delivering his coffee order.