(Robotic falconry via Wired.Com)
The rise of Quadcopters and Drones has been a pretty quick one. You only have to look back to Christmas and see the numerous gadget shops that offered all sorts of cheap, off of the shelf remote controlled quadcopters to see that the technology has captured the imaginations of thousands of people around the world.
But what happens when that technology then needs to be kept in check? What happens, if that technology is being used for evil instead of good? (Insert your own version of 'with great power comes great responsibility' anecdote here). Well, it appears that the answer is to fight fire with fire...or more accurately Drones with Drones. Mechanical engineers from Michigan Tech University have developed an anti-drone drone that has abilities Spiderman himself would be proud of.
The weapon of choice is a giant net that not only fires at the offending drone, but remains attached for the attacking drone to drag its prey off to pretty much where ever it chooses. Mo Rastgaar, associate professor of mechanical engineering, said "It's like robotic falconry. What makes this unique is that the net is attached to our catcher, so you can retrieve the rogue drone or drop it in a designated, secure area."
Effective from up to 40 feet away, the drone catching net brings its target down upon impact and the idea of being able to carry it off means any intel that the drone has collected (as long as it's stored locally) is reclaimed and, in worse case scenarios, if the Drone is armed with explosives it can be brought down in a designated safe zone to reduce casualties and/or damage to surrounding buildings.
It's not the first attempt at using drones to police other drones, in August Boeing unleashed their ground to air laser drone defense system which pretty much does what it says on the tin- spots a drone, fires laser, drone is dead...scary stuff. Others seem to be turning to more tech related methods to stop unwanted attention from the sky in the form of geo-fencing systems which prohibit a drone from flying in places by using GPS.
With rumors that the UK may be under threat from drones carrying explosives (Disclaimer: not sure just how true that is or how big a risk it is- please don't panic and buy anything to shoot down drones) it appears that this rise in anti-drone tech could be the start of an influx of tech based defenses to protect people from miniature aerial threats...
However, seeing as bears and even an eagle has been reported to have taken drones out then maybe a more natural solution could be considered- everyone is familiar with the resident Eagle at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament which is employed to keep pigeons off of the courts; could we soon see homes and estates employing birds of prey to ward off drones?
Cue an epic battle in the skies that will ring throughout the ages: Drones Vs. Eagles...think I'll stay indoors for that one.