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Guard From Above trains birds of prey to snatch drones out of the sky (Photo: Guard From Above).
Guard From Above trains birds of prey to snatch drones out of the sky (Photo: Guard From Above).

One of the challenges with defending against malevolent drones is detecting them. Some are tiny.

So, what drone-defense system could be more eagle-eyed than an eagle?

The Dutch National Police has begun using birds of prey as protection against unwanted drones. The police are working with a bird-training company called Guard From Above to teach the birds to intercept drones, according to a press release. Engadget was first to report the news.

Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, are the rage right now but they also have security experts concerned. Criminals have used them to smuggle drugs, even into prisons. In theory, terrorists could use them to carry lethal payloads. In response to this, a growing number of companies are trying to create systems to defend against drones, including anti-drone drones.

In some ways, using birds of prey makes sense. An eagle’s eyes are four to eight times stronger than a human’s. They have tough and sharp talons, and are powerful flyers. Guard From Above has more than two-decades of experience training birds and says a number of different species are used. In an impressive video posted to the company’s Web site, what appears to be an eagle is recorded snatching a drone out of the air.

But here’s the rub: The company has acknowledged that it isn’t certain whether drone propellers could injure the birds.

“In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey,” Guard From Above wrote on its site. “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 has asked the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) to research the possible impact on the birds’ claws. The results are not yet known.”

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