Thursday 27 October 2016

Police using drones with nets to catch other drones

Rhiannon Williams

Published 14/12/2015 | 08:47

Tokyo's police force has introduced an elite fleet of interceptor drones designed to chase and catch suspicious-looking drones in nets flying over sensitive locations amid concerns for the prime minister's safety.

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Riot police will control the camera-equipped interceptor drones to chase after private drones they feel may be spying on buildings, including the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe's office, and ensnare them in large nets before returning to the ground. Those controlling the force drone will first warn the suspicious drone's operator to cease the flight, before pursuing them.

A four-propellor drone carrying trace amounts of radioactive caesium was intercepted on the top of the prime minister's office in April, raising terror concerns in the capital. Police said radioactivity levels were only a maximum of 1 microsievert of gamma rays per hour, a level that is not harmful to humans.

"This situation concerns the centre of the Japanese government, the prime minister's office, and we will take every necessary measures, including a detailed investigation by police", Yoshihide Suga, the chief cabinet secretary, said at a press conference. A man was later arrested.

The police force's drones measure around one metre in diameter, and the nets measure two metres by three metres, suspended below the interceptor's body. The force will begin using them later this month, before rolling the initiative out more widely in February.

In Japan it is illegal to pilot drones over certain locations, including airports, over roads or 150 metres above the ground.

Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, are among technology's most contentious creations. While the opportunity they present for the retail industry, such as Amazon's delivery services, is impressive, concerns over safety, warfare and surveillance continue to block their adoption into mainstream use.

Facebook has developed solar-powered drones to fly over the UK to plug gaps in mobile coverage, providing a boost to “not-spot” areas of the country that are still without mobile internet.

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