In the drone wars, the eagles swing the balance of power back toward the Dutch

by on February 1, 2016 at 12:18 pm in Law, Science, Web/Tech | Permalink

As tech firms and law enforcement experiment with radio jammers and net-wielding interceptor drones to take down rogue quadcopters, police in the Netherlands are trialling a simpler solution: eagles. The country’s law enforcement has teamed up with a raptor training company named Guard From Above to see if birds of prey can be used to safely intercept quadcopters.

In the video demonstration above, an eagle is seen easily plucking what looks like a DJI Phantom out of the air. However, it’s not clear how dangerous this is for the bird.

File under “But at a price.”

The article is here, with an excellent video, and for the pointer I thank @alsoyourbrother.

1 RPLong February 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Training some of Earth’s most intelligent animals to intercept our aircraft – what could possibly go wrong?

2 Thiago Ribeiro February 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm

I still think America should have funded Skinner’s idea of using pigeons to guide bombs.
Project Pigeon would have made America great again. Pigeons are smart (they can tell Picasso and Monet’s paintings apart and bought neither), and there is no draft dodging pigeons.

3 Ray Lopez February 1, 2016 at 2:23 pm

And how about turning dolphins into torpedoes? This too is a ‘good idea’. Also breeding apes to become suicide bombers against the enemy. And can you imagine the splash that would be made if you somehow trained a blue whale to silently stalk a ship, with a ton of plastic explosives tied to it, and ram the ship? Thar she blows! The Military-Industrial complex would not be pleased at the loss of robotic contracts, nor Moby*. The Great White Wail all over again.

N.B. – during WWI, and maybe even WWII, homing pigeons received medals for their gallant service.

* Richard Melville Hall (born September 11, 1965),[1] better known by his stage name Moby, is an American singer-songwriter, musician, DJ and photographer. He is well known for his electronic music, vegan lifestyle, and support of animal rights.

4 Thiago Ribeiro February 1, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Who knows if American military hasn’t already done that (they may be saving it for a real war– a war that wouldn’t be won with tanks they don’t need —
If one can stop a raging bull, why can’t one make a whale attack?
Animals are the perfect soldiers because they are barely people. Didn’t they film a documentary about that?

5 Mark Thorson February 1, 2016 at 9:40 pm

When I took Neurobiology class in the 1970’s, I was told about an experiment that the folks at Sandia did for the military. They implanted electrodes in the brain of a mule and controlled them with a photodetector and optical system for maintaining a constant angle to the Sun. They then sent this mule into the desert, and it followed a straight line.

This gave me the idea you could do something similar with a large bird. Implant the electrodes in the brain with a remote control device, surgically remove the intestines and replace them with a bomb, then guide the bird toward a political candidate at a public event. Are his bodyguards going to open fire on a seagull or albatross? On a drone, yes, but a bird?

6 Thiago Ribeiro February 2, 2016 at 7:28 am

I confess I never heard of this mule experiment. It seems very ingenious.
“Are his bodyguards going to open fire on a seagull or albatross? On a drone, yes, but a bird?”
The first time it happens, no. After that, I guess birds would suffer species profiling and those behaving strangely and refusing to obey orders from bodyguards of law officers would be shot. Do seagull lives matter? More than the average politician’s, I mean? I’d rather not have to make the call.

7 msgkings February 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

The bird thing sounds fun but WAY harder than getting a very easy to obtain long-range rifle and just shooting the guy.

8 Thiago Ribeiro February 1, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Who knows if American military hasn’t already done that (they may be saving it for a real war– a war that wouldn’t be won with tanks they don’t need —
If one can stop a raging bull, why can’t one make a whale attack?
Animals are the perfect soldiers because they are barely human. Didn’t they film a documentary about that?

9 Albigensian February 2, 2016 at 4:11 pm

Bomb-carrying dogs were apparently used as anti-tank weapons in WWII. The important part of training the dogs is, be sure they know the difference between your tanks and the enemy’s.

10 iluvtacos February 1, 2016 at 1:07 pm

Now this vision of the future I can get on board with. Broods of Eagles battling with drones for control of the skies?

I knew there was a reason I followed this blog.

11 Mark Thorson February 1, 2016 at 11:21 pm

In some forms of cockfighting, metal spurs are attached to the cocks to make them more lethal. Presumably, similar appliances could be developed for bird-against-drone combat. Perhaps sprays to blind the cameras or electronic systems to block GPS or scramble the computers. Maybe some sort of wire to foul the rotors. Lots of possibilities here, some of which don’t require the bird to be aggressive or engage in combat. It could be more of a platform to bring the weapon systems close to the drone, then let the weapons finish the job. Payload and speed may be more important than beaks and claws. Canadian geese have extraordinary altitude ceiling and large payload capability — they might be the best platform. Turkey vultures have excellent loiter time, so they might be good for long-duration missions.

12 David H. February 1, 2016 at 1:31 pm

Getting actual eagles to do our fighting for us is the most American thing evar!

13 Thiago Ribeiro February 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

Even if Mexican eagles fly over the Wall and take American eagles’ jobs? What America really needs is importing Brazilian harpy eagles. Big, strong, fearsome, skilled reliable, implacable, honest and wise.

14 Roy LC February 1, 2016 at 3:02 pm

My understanding is that their is an eagle population imbalance, with most movement that of younger US born eagles into Mexico, where they have much higher mortality and lower reproductive success. Most eagles, bald or golden, in Mexico if not gringo are guero, and thus it is American eagles taking jobs Mexican eagles can’t fill. Of course Mexico does not prevent this the way US fish and wild life angencies attempt to keep out Mexican Jaguars claiming they have no place in America despite considerable geologic evidence.

So I think we are good, now if you can militarize the beaver both Mexico and the US will need to stand on guard to stop northern aggression. We already know that they can be deployed by air as paratroops.

It has already been done:

15 Thiago Ribeiro February 1, 2016 at 3:42 pm

I still think those so-called American eagles must be Hispanic eagles from territories that belonged to Mexico. They go to Mexico to bring their relatives to the USA and overuse America’s social services.
Regarding beavers, my instance is simple, if a beaver was not born in the USA, it can not be president.

16 Roy LC February 1, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Nebel et al 2015 suggests that North American Golden Eagles are migrants from Scandinavia, and that Asian and Japanese populations are derived from them, which makes sense because they are highly migratory and central Mexico is an extreme of their range. Clearly you are letting your biases guide you here. Like those who do not recognize the clear gringo dynamism of the Aztecs, who unlike the indolent Maya, were invaders from El Norte.

17 Thiago Ribeiro February 1, 2016 at 5:43 pm

That was then, this is now. If was fit and proper to accept European immigrants back then, but we can’t accept Mexicans going in and out as they wish. We need real control at our borders. Scandinavian eagles are conscientious, hard-working and smart. They aim high and fly higher. Mexican eagles are little better than carrion birds. I say, the only good Mexican eagle is the dead Mexican eagle.

18 JB February 1, 2016 at 2:45 pm

And we can use the rhinos we are reintroducing to the American West as ground troops:

19 Roy LC February 1, 2016 at 3:06 pm

I think the indian elephants will show far more trainability, though we will have to worry about such countertactics as flaming pigs from the Latins:

20 Eric February 2, 2016 at 9:08 am

* Most Gandalf thing ever

21 Bill February 1, 2016 at 2:53 pm

You attack my predator drone with an eagle,

I raise you one,

I attack your eagle nest with a Great Horned Owl:

“Great Horned Owls and mice also nest in the lower parts of a big nest made by eagles — even when the eagles are using it! Because of their size, adult Bald Eagles have very few predators. Some animals which attack eggs or nestlings include squirrels, Raccoons, Ravens, and Great Horned Owls.”

22 TvK February 1, 2016 at 4:53 pm

Those props are dangerous enough as it is. I’ve got a simple lightweight drone and take care to do it on an empty field and bring it back immediately when dogs are around. These are not toys.

No pics (I leave that to your imagination) but it has comments about nasty cuts, hand injuries and like:

“Oh and the neighbors dog tried to bite a spinning 250 prop in the air and almost lost her tongue…. Big ole bleeding mess….”

And the lesson:

“Never assume a Multi-rotor is safe, even if disarmed!! As long as the battery is plugged in, it is armed and live!”

I shudder to think about what’s going to happen when someone with nastier motives starts adding “enhancements” to their drones.

23 Donald Pretari February 1, 2016 at 6:46 pm

Crash proof drone. Are we having yet?

24 Donald Pretari February 1, 2016 at 6:52 pm

I should have known that delivering tear gas was already to go.

25 Zach February 4, 2016 at 5:23 pm

Worth remembering: raptors are big, strong birds.

If you have a spare hour or two, search Youtube for falcons hunting deer.

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