Although U.S. authorities have made headway in terms of regulating drone use, there’s still no real standard way of stopping a drone once you find out one is illegally hovering over your home or business. That may be about to change.
A team from the Michigan Technological University has created what they call a Robotic Falcon that acts as a kind of drone catcher.
The Robotic Falcon doesn’t look like a bird, it’s really just another drone, capable of the same kind of flight patterns and speeds available to most high-end drones. The difference here is that the Robotic Falcon is also equipped with a highly accurate net that it shoots at other rogue drones.
The mechanism is not only safer than shooting a drone out of the sky or chasing a drone with a net, as some have tried, but it also keeps the device intact for any investigatory needs.
“I thought, ‘If the threat is a drone, you really don’t want to shoot it down—it might contain explosives and blow up,'” said Mo Rastgaar, the device’s lead developer at the university’s Human-Interactive Robotics lab (HIRoLab), on the school’s website. “What you want to do is catch it and get it out of there.”
Once that netting is deployed, the target drone is rendered inactive and can be carried away by the Robotic Falcon, which maintains a tether to the netting after the target has been neutralized.
“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… It’s like robotic falconry,” says Rastgaar.
The Robotic Falcon’s net has a range of 40 feet, more than enough in most cases where a rogue drone needs reigning in. And while there’s no word on when this might actually be available as a product, Rastgaar has already filed a patent on the invention.