It's hard out there for a drone, especially when there's another drone out there that isn't afraid to fire a net at you and drag you around like a dead animal.
The latest in cutthroat drone warfare comes courtesy of the Human-Interactive Robotics Lab (HIRo Lab) at Michigan Technological University. The lab just filed a patent for a "drone catcher system" that uses a giant, quick-moving net to apprehend rogue drones. The net is attached to another drone, which can either be controlled by a person on the ground or by the drone itself. (In other words, the robot takeover will probably be upon us soon.)
According to Mo Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at MTU, "It's like robotic falconry."
MTU's press release claims that the the drone catcher can fire its net from up to 40 feet away. "It can overwhelm even the fastest, most maneuverable small drone" because of its large size and the speed with which it's launched, the lab said.
The team said the system could be effective in a number of different scenarios, including during military installations or athletic events, for air traffic and in high-security areas like the White House. The latter has been the target of a number of erroneous drone-related mishaps, including one gadget that crash-landed on the South Lawn last January.
"It gets really entangled," Rastgaar said of the rogue drone. "It's not going anywhere."
Here's what it looks like from the poor, entrapped drone's perspective:
As the Guardian points out, this isn't the first time someone has tried to make a drone to capture all drones, but many of the previous iterations have caused the captured drone to crash below — an undesirable outcome if the drone is, say, carrying explosives.
Of course, given the size and speed of the system, there are other things the drone could probably catch. Birds, skydivers, those dumb airplane banners, even unsuspecting people down below.
Come to think of it, we may have just found our newest way to steal your man. Beware, people!