Eagles take down drones

The New York Times reports: Its wings beating against a gathering breeze, the eagle moves gracefully through a cloudy sky, then swoops, talons outstretched, on its prey below.

The target, however, is not another bird but a small drone, and when the eagle connects, there is a metallic clunk. With the device in its grasp, the bird of prey returns to the ground.

At a disused military airfield in the Netherlands, hunting birds like the eagle are being trained to harness their instincts to help combat the security threats stemming from the proliferation of drones.

The birds of prey learn to intercept small, off-the-shelf drones — unmanned aerial vehicles — of the type that can pose risks to aircraft, drop contraband into jails, conduct surveillance or fly dangerously over public events.

The thought of terrorists using drones haunts security officials in Europe and elsewhere, and among those who watched the demonstration at Valkenburg Naval Air Base this month was Mark Wiebes, a detective chief superintendent in the Dutch police.

Mr. Wiebes described the tests as “very promising,” and said that, subject to a final assessment, birds of prey were likely to be deployed soon in the Netherlands, along with other measures to counter drones. The Metropolitan Police Service in London is also considering using trained birds to fight drones. [Continue reading…]

This has been described as a “a low-tech solution for a high-tech problem” but, on the contrary, what it highlights is the fact that in terms of maneuverability, the flying skills of an eagle (and most other flying creatures) are vastly superior to any form of technology.

In this, as in so many other instances, technology crudely imitates nature.

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