HomeHomeless in Vancouver: Tokyo police unveil interceptor to net rogue drones

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On December 10, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department staged a media photo-op to show off their new interceptor drone, designed to quickly neutralize rogue civilian drones by snagging them in mid-air with a big net.

Japanese authorities have obviously been scrambling to find a way to deal with terror acts involving drones, especially since April 22 when a quadcopter-style drone carrying slightly radioactive sand was landed without fanfare on the rooftop helipad of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s Tokyo office.

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The drone was fitted with a camera and one small, sand-filled brown bottle labelled with a sticker bearing a tri-foil radiation symbol and the word radiation. Within a day of the incident, authorities told the media that harmless trace amounts of radioactive caesium had been detected around the drone.

Two days later, police arrested an unemployed 40-year-old man by the name of Yasuo Yamamoto, who reportedly admitted to flying the drone onto the Japanese PM’s roof as an anti-nuclear protest, after first fitting the drone with a small payload of minutely radioactive sand collected from an area affected by fallout from the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns.

It takes a drone to catch a drone

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The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s answer to the possible threat of terrorist drones is a big, one-metre diameter six-rotor drone of its own, which has a rectangular net measuring two metres by three metres suspended below its body.

On December 10, police demonstrated to Japanese media how this fast interceptor drone can use its net to quickly catch and immobilize another drone in mid-flight and then safely bring it in for “questioning”.Police explained that they would only use their interceptor to bring down a drone if they were unable to secure the cooperation of its remote operator.

A small fleet of the interceptor drones will begin going into service later in December as part of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s newly created drone squad made up of select officers from the riot squad.

While the drone landing on the Japanese PM’s roof will have provided additional impetus, the development of the interceptor drones probably has more to do with providing additional aerial security for the upcoming May 2016 meeting of G7 leaders to be held in the eastern coastal Japanese city of Shima, located about 128 kilometres from Osaka.