Anti-drone weapons fall into two camps. There are complicated, elaborate tracking systems that follow the small, unmanned vehicles and then jam their sensors and signals, sending them crashing to the ground. And then there are the nets, wielded by either humans on the ground or, increasingly, other robots in the air. Tokyo even has a dedicated anti-drone police squad with a net drone. Michigan Tech's Drone-Catcher is the latest net-wielding drone-hunting drone.
Here’s that same catch, slowed down
Using a DJI Phantom-series quadcopter as the prey, Michigan Tech’s octocopter fired a net, ensnaring the smaller drone and then holding it captive below. The net-gun has a range of up to 40 feet, and can carry its prisoner to a waiting team on the ground. There, they can investigate the machine without worrying about it getting lost or destroyed in the process. The drone-catcher is piloted by either a human on the ground or an autonomous control system, or a combination.
Here’s what the capture looks like from the Phantom’s camera:
The Drone-Catcher project was headed by So Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Technological University. He told Michigan Tech News that “It’s like robotic falconry,” and that’s not a bad description. Only unlike using falcons to attack drones, there’s very little risk of bodily harm for the capturing drone.
Watch the full sequence below: