Several U.S. cities and states are currently considering laws to regulate the small, personal-use quadcopters we’ve all agreed to call “drones,” but once those laws are in place, how do you stop drone pilots who violate them? The Dutch National Police are way ahead of us on that one: They’ve been training eagles to take down unruly drones.
A video hit YouTube Monday showing an eagle trained by Dutch police and the Hague-based raptor-training firm Guard From Above as it snatches a drone from midair without suffering any damage from its spinning props.
At the IEEE’s Spectrum blog, Evan Ackerman raised some concerns Monday about the safety risks of using birds as anti-drone weapons, especially in the U.S., where some eagle species are legally protected.
Guard From Above has an answer to the question of bird safety, although it’s not exactly reassuring:
In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey. Their talons have scales, which protect them, naturally, from their victims’ bites. Of course, we are continuously investigating any extra possible protective measures we can take in order to protect our birds.
The Dutch National Police have also commissioned a study to make sure that drone-snatching won’t damage the birds’ claws.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., a Kentucky judge ruled in what’s being called the “drone-slayer” case that a man was within his rights to shoot down a hobby drone that had hovered over his property multiple times. The drone-slayer, William Merideth, used a 12-gauge shotgun loaded with buckshot to remove the offending drone. His neighbor, the drone pilot, is currently suing in federal court, asking a judge to determine whether flying a drone over private property qualifies as trespassing.