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Drone wars: Meet the new drones designed to snatch other drones right out of the sky

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 9:09PM EST
Drone Vs Drone

While the definition of the term “drone” has grown a bit murky in recent years with the rise of consumer quadcopters, but one thing is certain: quadcopter drones have become hugely popular, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In most cases, people use these remote-controlled flying gadgets for fun or for work, relying on pricier devices like the DJI Phantom 3 for high-quality aerial videos. Sometimes, however, people use these camera-equipped drones for less benign things like taking covert videos of people, spying on the competition, or even worse.

We have covered a number of emerging solutions that look to dispatch unfriendly drones, such as a new kind of rifle that can shoot drones out of the sky without firing a single bullet. Now a new type of anti-drone solution is about to be unleashed, and it’s far simpler than fancy rifles and giant anti-drone lasers.

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Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) this week unveiled its new fleet of anti-drone crafts. Police are calling the devices “interceptor drones,” and they’re designed to literally snatch other drones right out of the sky.

How do they accomplish this feat in mid-air? These new high-tech aircraft employ a surprisingly low-tech solution: Nets.

Each interceptor drone is equipped with a large net that hangs beneath it. MPD officials from within the riot squad division will control the devices manually via remote, and simply steer them above a target drone in order to catch it with the hanging net.

As for how and when these new drones will be called into action, here’s an excerpt from The Mainichi’s report:

According to the MPD, in case a suspicious drone is spotted, police officers will first track down the device’s operator and warn them to halt the flight. If the officers fail to find the operator near the scene, or the flight continues despite the warning, they will scramble an interceptor drone to catch the suspicious counterpart mid-air.

The decision to begin using interceptor drones was reached after a drone equipped with a smoke canister and a plastic container holding radiation-contaminated soil was found on top of the prime minister’s office earlier this year. And while the MPD’s new fleet isn’t ready for action just yet, single-drone tests will begin this month and a fleet of 10 interceptor drones is scheduled to lift off this coming February.

A video showing these drone-catching drones in action is embedded below.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.