Birds Become Fiercest Obstacle For Drone-Filled Skies, Taking Machines Down Daily

by Jon D. B.
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It’s happening: Flying robots versus warrior birds. Dutch police are training eagles to take down drones, and wild birds still hate them, too.

“We’ve identified some birds in your area demonstrating territorial behaviors” said drone company Wing after an Australian raven took back her airspace over the weekend.

If that sounds like the beginning of a great story, that’s because it is. It’s a tale as old as time: Nature fights back against the progress of man (even though this Outsider would argue those two are, in fact, one and the same).

The more drones become a part of our daily lives, however, the more obstacles that become apparent. Wildlife, for example, really hate drones. A lot. And why wouldn’t they? Their response seems about on par with how us humans will respond when we finally see aliens in the open for the first time. In short: the chances of non-hostile confrontation are slim.

Birds Battle Robots for Aerial Dominance… Really.

Much like this alligator that completely demolished a low-flying drone, the recent Australian Raven vs Google Drone saga (see footage below) is reminding the tech-savvy world that we humans are not king of the skies. Birds are, and birds hate drones.

So much so, in fact, that Google’s delivery service operation, Wing, is pausing flights in Australia’s capital (Canberra) on account of identifying these birds that are “demonstrating territorial behaviours and swooping at moving objects,” cites the country’s ABC affiliate.

They’re far from the first to do so, too. Birds – especially birds of prey – have been taking down drones since they hit the skies. It’s typically recreational users that get pegged by these winged warriors – like this gentleman’s flying robot’s recent tussle with a peregrine falcon.

Yet this consistent obstacle for drone users of all affiliations is exactly what’s led to a Dutch stroke of genius.

Holland’s Police Force Training Warrior Eagles to Take Down Drones

For the past few years, a covert training operation has been underway in Holland. The country’s police force has been quietly training sea and white-tailed eagles (see below) to counteract their skies’ illegal drone activity.

The program has been so successful since its implementation, in fact, that other European countries (including France) are implementing their own anti-drone eagle taskforces.

“It’s a low-tech solution to a hi-tech problem,” police spokesman Dennis Janus told BBC News as the program went public.

“The eagles see the drones as prey and intercept them as they are flying, before landing where they feel safe with the drone still in their claws,” Janus continues.

As for Google’s ongoing raven problem in Australia, their Wing company is at least playing it correctly.

“While this is common during nesting season, we are committed to being strong stewards of the environment,” the company says of the recent raven vs drone attack. “We would like to have ornithological experts investigate this further… To ensure we continue to have minimal impact on birdlife in our service locations.”

Good on you, mates. Good on you. Because if history – recent or ancient – shows us anything, it’s that nature always wins.

Outsider.com