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Robotic falconry: Michigan Tech drone catches rogue drones

As personal ownership of a drone becomes more common, one question continues to arise–how we do deal with rogue drones? If you’re Mo Rastgaar, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University, the answer is of course with another drone.

Enter the drone-catcher. It uses a simple net launching system to capture and immobilize the suspect flier. It has an effective distance of 40 feet. The size of the net and the speed at which it is launched gives the drone-catcher considerable leeway in pursuit.

Once a drone is captured, the net drops below the drone-catcher and hangs in tow to be ferried away. “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,” Rastgaar said. “It’s like robotic falconry.” The system can be operated autonomously or by a ground-based human pilot if need be.

While there’s something humorous about drones catching drones, the reality is that they have the potential to pose a serious threat that most police and security groups are not prepared to deal with. As Rastgaar explained,“I thought, ‘If the threat is a drone, you really don’t want to shoot it down—it might contain explosives and blow up. What you want to do is catch it and get it out of there.’”

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