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Crime Security The Military Technology

Dutch Police Train Bald Eagles To Take Out Drones 137

Qbertino writes: Heise.de (German article) reports that the Dutch police is training raptor birds — bald eagles, too — to take down drones. There's a video (narrated and interviewed in Dutch) linked in TFA. It's a test phase and not yet determined if this is going real — concerns about the birds getting injured are among the counter-arguments against this course of action. This all is conducted by a company called "Guard from above," which designs systems to prevent smugling via drones. The article also mentions MTU's net-shooting quadcopter concept of a drone-predator. Of course, there are also 'untrained' birds taking out quadcopters, as you might have seen already.
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Dutch Police Train Bald Eagles To Take Out Drones

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  • Smugling? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Nidi62 ( 1525137 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:53PM (#51416735)
    So the Dutch are using birds to stop people from flying drones arrogantly?
    • No. They are only using them on criminals and terrorists.

      How they determine that before they set off on a mission is anyone's guess.

    • I was thinking more like there was a "flying Dutchman" joke in there somewhere, but I like what you are thinking.

  • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @04:56PM (#51416747)

    You do realize, if I am not mistaken, that bald eagles are raptors, so "too" is a bit redundant. Maybe "including"?

  • by ffkom ( 3519199 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:07PM (#51416829)
    ... for the upcoming war against the flying SkyNet minions ;-)
  • The NL police should just teach the birds to drop a net onto the drone, gunking up the props. That way, the birds don't need to get near the drone.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:27PM (#51416957) Homepage

      If they're doing that, they might as well teach the birds to fly upside down underneath the drones, unscrew the access panel and rewire the electronics to operate on a radio frequency used by the cops so they gain control over it.

      • Rewiring it might be a little far-fetched to teach an eagle, but you probably could teach one to fly underneath a drone, flip over, snatch the drone by the camera, then flip the drone over to plummet to it's death... I've seen an eagle do something similar to an overly annoying seagull.
      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        If they're doing that, they might as well teach the birds to fly upside down underneath the drones, unscrew the access panel and rewire the electronics to operate on a radio frequency used by the cops so they gain control over it.

        They are birds not Border Collies.

    • Instead of training birds and risking bad PR from injuring them, why not just get cheap anti-drone drones to drop nets on drones?
  • This is like the future of the 1980's cartoons finally coming true.

  • by urdak ( 457938 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:20PM (#51416911)

    In previous news in slashdot, an alleged Israeli spy vulture was caught by Lebanon.
    The Israelis claimed this was ridiculous, that it was just an innocent bird.
    But now we know the truth: the vulture was really out to get Lebanese drones!

  • by Lucas123 ( 935744 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:43PM (#51417053) Homepage
    They so often seem to handle society's little problems so much more elegantly than the rest of us.
    • Tell me about it. They've out American'd the Americans. What's the solution in the freedom country? Shoot the things out the sky with a healthy dose of the second amendment. The Dutch's answer? Take it out with the animal personification of freedom itself.

  • by QilessQi ( 2044624 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @05:47PM (#51417081)

    ...but they STILL won't fly Frodo and Sam to Mount Doom. Damn you, Eagles!

    • Yeah, because all the eagles are good for is a glorified taxi service right?

      Wahhhh, eagles where were you when I needed you?

      Tell me, where is the story about anyone ever doing anything for the eagles? sheesh....

  • Are these eagles to be permanently "deployed" , living in the wild in border areas, or cared for and transported by staff?

    If humans need to be involved each time , it seems like a "foamie" RC plane (with automatic stabilization) would be easier to handle than an eagle. Crashing into the drone would sometimes wreck the $25 foam body.

  • I am adding this under the Bird vs. Robot category in my list of versus:

    https://docs.google.com/spread... [google.com]

  • Bald Eagles are native to North America. They simply don't exist in the wild anywhere else.

    In the United States they were endangered most of my life (until about 10 years ago), and still to this day it is illegal to "own" one in captivity except under certain very rare circumstances. Usually, it has to be injured in some way which would physically prevent it from living in the wild.

    In short, Bald Eagles should be wild. Combine that with them being a symbol of the USA, and a great many Americans find it o

    • Not only is it illegal to keep a bald eagle in captivity but it's also illegal to possess eagle feathers unless you are a native American using them in your cultural expression.

    • Combine that with them being a symbol of the USA

      And how do the Native American tribes for whom the bald eagle is sacred feel about that?

      Your point about keeping endangered should-be-wild animals was perfectly valid, but I think you did it a real disservice by playing the "offended!" card.

      Another example is English Premiere League club Crystal Palace, which has a live Bald Eagle "mascot" [dailymail.co.uk].

      Kayla was stolen from the wild as a chick, recovered, and released back into the wild, but her lack of a natural upbringing left her unable to hunt naturally (she stole food from humans instead). Long story short, she ended up at the Eagle Heights Wildlife Foundation in

      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

        And how do the Native American tribes for whom the bald eagle is sacred feel about that?

        Well, I also happen to be Osage myself. I can't speak for the entire tribe, and certainly not for all tribes, but I personally look at it as showing the proper respect. Which is kind of a nice switch from the usual American attitude toward tribal sensitivities.

        When you are appropriating something from another culture, context means everything. If you do it in a supportive and respectful way, it can be a huge plus for both sides. Thus laws like the prohibition on owning "pet" Eagles serve a dual purpose. B

    • In the United States they were endangered most of my life (until about 10 years ago), and still to this day it is illegal to "own" one in captivity except under certain very rare circumstances.

      Evidently, it is not rare enough circumstances to prevent this [youtube.com] particularly egregious fucktardery, which also shows that some of the most "patriotic" 'Murkans have no problem with it at all.

      But I do agree...just leave them the fuck alone.

      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

        Actually, if you read the text around that video, that was a WILD bald eagle that flew in through an open window. I happen to live about a mile and a half from that particular chapel, and yes we do have wild Bald Eagles here. Usually I only see juveniles on the utility poles behind my house, but I understand there are some adults over near the river (and that chapel happens to be smack dab between my house and the river).

        • Sorry, but no, you're wrong. Here's another video [youtube.com] of the event showing the handlers and the pastor announcing the eagle's arrival and that it was being released from the balcony. "Eagle flying in the Chapel window" should read "into the Chapel window".

          • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

            Ah, well that is indeed a bird of a different feather then. Even with a non-releasable Eagle, releasing that poor bird into an enclosed space filled with people is just not acceptable. That trainer will be smoking a turd in 'murica hell for that one.

            OTOH, here's another Bald Eagle [youtube.com] showing it still has the proper American spirit. A true American, that bird.

            • Heh...actually I'm not sure which constitutes worse animal abuse: releasing the eagle in the Chapel, or putting one in same room as Trump.

    • Cane toads are native to America. There are a bajillion of them in Australia. Would you please come and collect them, we don't want them and it apparently upsets you that animals have been moved to new locations.

      As for the birds, what about the ones that were born and raised in captivity. What should we do with those? Euthanise or let out into the wild to starve?

      • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

        what about the ones that were born and raised in captivity. What should we do with those?

        It happens. What usually should happen in this case is that the Eagle is taken care of by one of our Eagle Rescue organizations [wikipedia.org], and whoever caused it to have to be raised that way (if it was purposely done by a human) is thrown in jail and charged with a felony.

        • WTF? Why? If there is a bird that was born in captivity in say France, from parents that were born in captivity also in France why the hell should that bird have anything to do with people in the US? Let alone being some random american crime?

          If someone has a pet kangaroo that they raised in the UK should I be getting wound up? They are on my coat of arms after all, just like the Bald Eagle. An NO other country has them naturally which cannot be said about the bird.

      • Cane toads are native to America. There are a bajillion of them in Australia. Would you please come and collect them, we don't want them and it apparently upsets you that animals have been moved to new locations.

        We tried, but weirdly enough no Native American tribes wanted to claim them as majestic spirit animals. That left us trying to raise awareness by cute youtube videos of cane toads snuggling with fluffy blankies, but they kept losing popularity to videos of puppies, kittens, and piglets. We just can't seem to raise enough angst over the plight of expatriate cane toads to buy any senators to put a bill through. It's a sad day for the fate of 'Murican cane toads worldwide.

        • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

          Cane toads are native to the tropical areas of South and Central America. I wouldn't be at all surprised if some of the native peoples there consider them a sacred creature. But you'd have to talk to them.

  • Why don't we just cut out the middlemen and teach eagles how to fly around with cameras and little missiles?

  • by Daniel Matthews ( 4112743 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @06:35PM (#51417463)
    Another in a long list of moronic solutions that will never work against an intelligent attack, or even a large number of idiots.

    What does such a bird cost? How many can you deploy at once and how many drones can it remove per unit of time? Can you train it to ignore a $20, deliberately attractive, decoy drone (or ten) an target the payload drone instead?

    The only generally useful and economically viable anti-drone system is one that can take out hundreds per minute and at a significant range without causing collateral damage by spraying the surroundings with debris or projectiles, and without causing broadcasted broadband electromagnetic interference.
    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Did you forget the punchline?
      The above post looks like it should be some sort of joke with the fantasy of having to stop hundreds of drones per minute instead of a few potential operations per year.
    • Not an issue (Score:4, Informative)

      by Gorath99 ( 746654 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @06:29AM (#51420055)

      It's not actually meant for anything like that at all.

      In the video, the cops explain (in Dutch, so I completely understand that this isn't obvious to parent) that it's meant to take out the odd drone that is - often inadvertently - flying somewhere where it really shouldn't, such as near an airport, or somewhere where an air ambulance needs to land. Nowhere in the video is it claimed that the system will be used to stop terrorists, smuggling, mass idiocy, or anything like that. Consider it the air equivalent of a police canine unit.

    • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @07:13AM (#51420169)

      Another in a long list of moronic solutions that will never work against an intelligent attack, or even a large number of idiots.

      Firstly, this is research; so, they are saying "could this work?" Research is what you do when you don't know, but want to find out. Secondly, they are not talking about large, sustained attacks - hopefully there will better ways of handling this, but there is a need to protect certain areas, like airports, from the occasional, stray drone.

      One reason it seems attractive to use a trained animal is that animals are already fully autonomous. If you can train large birds of prey to attack drones, you can pretty much leave it to patrol the area. Birds are territorial, so they will tend to stay within an area, if there is enough food available, and it is already well known that these birds can be trained to always come back to their handlers for food. All in all, it might not be a stupid idea to try to get it to work.

      What really made me decide to comment on this was the never-ending contraryness that always meets news about things people don't understand or don't feel fits in to their own, narrow field of interest. Looking back, it seems to me like most of the best things innovations started as something that people didn't understand and couldn't see the point in. If it had been obvious to most, it wouldn't have been much of an innovation, really.

  • Maybe you can design some kind of metal mesh on strategic places around your drone that carries a high voltage, enough to give the bird something to think about?
  • I guess if the Dutch try it, so can we.
    I wonder if this is not being done all ready. Some guy growing drugs notices that there seem to be too many drones flying around and decides to take matter into his own hands. Better than shooting the drones with a rifle, as there is culpable deniability.
  • The risk of hurting the eagle really makes this a bad idea. If only there was some sort of machine that could do this job, like a robo-eagle? It'd have to be an agile remote-controlled flying machine which used a camera to send images back to the operator.

    Sadly such a thing hasn't been invented yet.

    • If they actually start using birds to catch drones, then criminals (who are misusing them, for example for "smugling" ho ho) will just start mounting sharp spikes on drones. If you make them thin and pointy enough, there is a serious danger than the bird will not see them and will impale itself. This is a horribly stupid thing to do.

  • .... who thinks this is actually really cool?
  • by OFnow ( 1098151 ) on Monday February 01, 2016 @09:32PM (#51418411)
    Nobody wants injured Eagles. So arm them with submachine guns. What could go wrong?
  • Can't someone build a $5 jammer and whoever is controlling a drone no longer can? There aren't many completely AI drones and they certainly don't cost under $1 million. That's easier than eagles and by definition a jammer for that frequency won't interfere with any electronics that the original transmitting controller for the drone would have.
    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      Can't someone build a $5 jammer and whoever is controlling a drone no longer can?

      Drones by definition have GPS and autopilot. You are thinking of remote-control aircraft.

  • ...because they're going to lose a few with the rotors of any half-decent drone...

  • Dutch police ARE using... Dutch police is plural, so bad grammar there. Also, what is smugling? Any why do they want to prevent it?
  • Am I the only one to see an arms race here? - Drones armed to take out birds, or escort drones means to distract the birds and keep them from attacking the important drone?

    Like all arms races it can only either end badly or never - continuously escalating.

  • by koan ( 80826 )

    The bird will be injured and never attack a drone again or worse, killed.

    Try catching my 650 with 15 inch carbon fiber blades, a smart bird wouldn't get near it.

  • Falconry is still popular in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

  • by hack slash ( 1064002 ) on Tuesday February 02, 2016 @04:23PM (#51423595)
    The quadcopter they showed with the eagle is a Spyrit Max FPV T2M, a toy level 230 size (measured in mm diagonally from motor-motor), and weighs less than 600g when it has the prop guards & camera on board (which it didn't at the time), yet the 360 sized quads (like the DJI Phantom) weigh around a 1000g and get heavier when you add things a camera & 3 axis gimbal, plus they have brushless motors that are far more powerful than the brushed motors of the Spyrit.

    A Cheerson CX-20 is around the same size as a Phantom, and one has already accidentally killed a bald eagle that had attacked it: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showpost.php?p=33893158&postcount=56152 [rcgroups.com]

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