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Tokyo Police unveil interceptor to net rogue drones

December 12, 2015
Still from footage posted by jiji.com to YouTube showing the interceptor drone capturing a smaller drone in its net.

Tokyo Police interceptor drone netting a smaller drone. — jiji.com

Yesterday (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.

Still from news helicopter footage of

April 22 news footage still of of drone (circled) on Japanese PM’s helipad. — jiji.com

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

The Tokyo Police interceptor successfully grounds its prey. --- j

The Tokyo Police interceptor drone successfully grounds its prey. — jiji.com

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, that 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 km from Osaka.

Much of the detail in this post comes from the original description accompanying the YouTube video (linked below) of the Tokyo Metropolitan’s December 10th drone demonstration, which was uploaded by the Japanese news service jiji.com.

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From → Drones, Worldwide

2 Comments
  1. Slowcrow permalink

    This method seems like could turn into ‘Keystone Cops’ fiasco……. BUT, high above OUR heads……… 😦 These things might be a huge problem as the prices continue to plummet………

    • The TMPD’s effort is impressive though and highlights the concern over drones in official circles. The U.S. government seems very concerned that these unpersoned aerial “toys” will be used for nefarious purposes. The Department of Homeland Security recently gave a quiet briefing showing, among other things, a DJI Phantom 3 (as per my previous drone post) rigged with a payload of explosives. The new requirement for registration in the U.S. is meant, I guess, to help blunt the effect of, what the FAA fears, will be millions of American getting drones for Christmas.

      Personally, I think people should be more concerned about so-called hoverboards, at least in the short run — those already are virtually bombs the way their Lithium-ion batteries are going up in flames!

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