Police in Japan are deploying net-equipped drones capable of hunting down, disabling, and capturing drones trespassing or engaged in criminal activity. The new technology is designed to allow officers to enforce a sweeping set of new regulations banning drones from cities, events that draw big crowds and important areas like government offices, airports, and hospitals.
The new laws were enacted after a drone carrying a small-amount of radioactive material landed on the roof of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office in April. The man who flew the drone, Yasuo Yamamoto, was actually protesting the government’s nuclear energy policy and was hoping the stunt might bring attention to the continued plight of the victims of the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. Yasuo turned himself into the police soon after the drone was discovered.
Americans witnessed a similar though much smaller backlash against drones after a small drone crash-landed near the White House a few months back.
The anti-drone seen being tested by the Japanese police in the video is hardly the first attempt to control the skies. A company in Ohio designed a radio-wave jamming gun that can force a drone out of the sky by overriding its control fail-safe. Engineers in California have invented a drone-cloak that renders the machines almost invisible. And the creators of a new technology called Maldrone claim to be able to hijack a drone’s on-board computer and run basic commands that can either force it to send the hacker information from its sensors or to land altogether.
As the drone, anti-drone arms race gets off to an ambitious start, the current leaders seem to be the ones sticking with the Old World over the New. A Kentucky man was arrested after using a rifle loaded with bird shot to shoot down a drone that he said was hovering over his property to observe his neighbor’s young daughter sunbathing. While video of the incident disputes his version of events, nobody can dispute whether his way worked.