Drone catching eagle squadron grounded permanently in Switzerland

Officials in Geneva, Switzerland, judged that technological advancements rendered success rates unclear and even hazardous for the birds to handle, so they grounded yet another squadron of drone catching eagles.

To safeguard dignitaries in a city that often hosts international meetings and the like, the so-called “eagle brigade” initiative took flight in 2017. The eagles were trained to grab drones in midair.

“The technological and strategic improvements in terms of the use of drones make this project using raptors too uncertain, even dangerous for the physical integrity of the eagles,” the Geneva Cantonal told Le Matin Dimanche.

A falconer taught two raptors, Altair and Draco, how to catch unwelcome unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

The eagle eggs had been purchased and hatched by local police. The Falcom Association in Geneva, which put the eagles through their paces, was run by Umberto Nassini, who informed the magazine that the project's termination was regrettable.

“This represents around 100,000 francs of investment and hundreds of hours of work,” Nassini said.

In 2016, Dutch police experimented with the concept of creating a squadron of eagles that could hunt down drones, saying that the birds' talons might be used as a weapon against a medium-sized quadcopter.

“The bird sees the drone as prey and takes it to a safe place, a place where there are no other birds or people,” a spokesman said at the time.

The Dutch version was abandoned in 2017 before it had began, since the local police found that teaching the birds was more difficult and costly than they had first thought.

To combat the threat posed by UAVs, the Scottish police and the Met police of the UK also thought of establishing their own flying corps in 2016.

“As would be expected in an organization that is transforming we take an interest in all innovative new ideas and will of course be looking at the work of the Dutch police use of eagles,” a spokesman told The Register at the time.

Both of those ideas didn't work out, maybe because they realized it would be expensive to do something that would get some attention but wouldn't be useful or profitable.

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Haye Kesteloo
Haye Kesteloo

Haye Kesteloo is the Editor in Chief and Founder of DroneXL.co, where he covers all drone-related news, DJI rumors and writes drone reviews, and EVXL.co, for all news related to electric vehicles. He is also a co-host of the PiXL Drone Show on YouTube and other podcast platforms. Haye can be reached at haye @ dronexl.co or @hayekesteloo.

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