back to article Japan unveils net-wielding police drones for air patrol

Police in Tokyo are preparing a fleet of drones to police hobbyist aircraft in the city. According to a report from Japan Today, the Metropolitan Police Department has assembled a squad of dozens of officers who will use the police quadcopters to catch and take down unruly drones operating in unsafe or illegal conditions. …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    I can see a new form of cop-baiting on the horizon. That, plus faster and more maneuverable drones.

    How long before we see autonomous 'drone takers' then? and what about civilians deploying this tech, resulting in a healthy 'used drone' market? Fun times...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dronepaper

      What you're seeing here is another arms race starting, caused by inconsiderate idiots.

      Personally, I think the XKCD idea is more viable: place them outside the law other than liability for damage they cause. Anyone who does not have enough braincells to realise the danger they cause by hovering near airports in aviation space and by fires where aircraft are trying to bring water should not only lose the thing but have it compacted and rectally inserted by way of forceful and memorable education.

      Ditto for people trying to take a peek in someone else's garden, but I'm wondering if it would not be possible to develop an auto-aiming 10.000 candela torch for that - that's bright enough to reach up to flight height but would still sufficiently disperse not to cause harm to any aircraft in the vicinity (the main issue with lasers). Plus it lights them up nicely for some buckshot, but that's not always possible (I'm not a government, so I don't get to call it "collateral damage" and get away with it).

    2. TheVogon

      Re: Dronepaper

      I prefer the flamethrower option:

  2. frank ly

    The video

    It showed the police drone landing with a 'bad' drone entangled in the net. It didn't show it intercepting and catching a bad drone. I wonder why not?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The video

      Look again, you missed it.

      1. frank ly

        Re: The video

        I've no idea why, but the video started in the middle when I opened the link and I didn't notice. Thanks for telling me. (The bad drone wasn't making an effort at evasive flying.)

        1. tfewster Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Re: The video

          Same here with the video starting in the middle. And I still couldn't work out why the prop-guards on the "target" didn't prevent the entanglement.

          Even then, the probability of escalating from "a drone that might go out of control" to "a drone falling out of control" is approaching 1

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The video

            If the net is loose enough it will be sucked past the prop guards.

          2. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: The video

            It did show it chasing and intercepting the white drone. The person flying the white drone was cooperating so after a few tries the black on managed to snag the white one in the net.

            In real life things aren't going to be so easy. Towing a net reduces the maneuverability of the plane so the errant one should be able to avoid it (and if it was truly a 'bad drone' it might have countermeasures of its own). Its also a lot more difficult to maneuver planes to intercept than it looks due to problems with human depth perception (try it!).

            I fancy an air war. Could be fun.

  3. James Loughner

    Air war over Tokyo

    Title says it

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Air war over Tokyo

      They haz dystopia...

  4. Chris G Silver badge

    Dare I say


    See Icon

  5. Kevin 6

    Did they just watch the South Park episode titled "The Magic Bush"?

    as this idea sounds pretty much exactly what that episode was about.

  6. joed

    attack is the only defense

    it won't be long before bad guys come with bigger and "badder" net equipped drone and snatch cops' toys (or maybe just competition).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: attack is the only defense

      It seems to me the way to go is a 'deploy on demand' net. That way the copbot doesn't lose maneuverability until it's ready 'make the kill'. And once the perpbot is snagged, maybe jettison the net with a chute attached, leaving the copbot ready for another deployment, if available.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: attack is the only defense

        It seems to me the way to go is a 'deploy on demand' net.

        Agree - you could even implement a release mechanism so you could take down multiple drones in one flight by carrying multiple nets. I'd also add a string of chains to dangle underneath, which would help with drones with ducted fans (because they'd be less exposed to being caught with a net).

  7. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Where's Godzilla when we really need him?

    He could just swat the illegal drones out of the air.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Does it need to be that hi tech?

    Japan has a long history of kite fighting.

  9. Scroticus Canis

    Drone Wars - Yeehaa!

    Counter measure - tape a sieve over the rotors?

  10. Peter Clarke 1

    New Game Show

    Robot Wars is soooo last decade. TV Execs are drawing up the plans now

    Craig Charles, Meh! Philiipa in her leather jeans, yes please!!

  11. DropBear

    I kinda can't help wondering how well (if at all) that would work against something like this...

    1. John Bailey

      At a guess, not at all, because the police quads are outside. That little thing would crash if you farted in it's general direction.

      Indoors only.

  12. Little Mouse

    I'm a bit jealous...

    Getting paid to play real-life drone wars?

    I wonder how much of a problem it was, getting volunteers to join the new unit...

  13. M7S

    The law of unintended consequences

    If they cause a drone to go out of the operator's control, but don't manage to control it themselves (perhaps it falls out of the net somehow) injuring some innocent bystander, this could all become rather unfortunate.

    Similarly if the target is heavier than they anticipated and the entire ensemble descends to the ground (the target no longer having any appreciable lift, and the skycop not having enough of it's own for the combined mass) in an unplanned manner, then I don't know if Japan is like the US but I expect everyone involved would rapidly be "lawyering up".

  14. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Drop zone

    Taking out a drone in this manner will risk dropping it onto anyone beneath it - more dangerous than the drone itself. A responsible police response would be a drone that over-rides the control signals of an errant drone with closer and therefore more powerful signals ordering it down.

    Or a net with a parachute or balloons.

    1. Suricou Raven

      Re: Drop zone

      You can't just override - most of these consumer drones have wifi-based control, encryption is trivial. Some models can be hacked.

      You could hit them with a jamming signal though - any decent drone will be designed to either stop dead or safely land if communication is lost. You'd need to give police an exemption to radio regulations so they could wield directional high-power jamming guns that'll likely screw up every wireless network in two hundred meters for a few minutes, but after that it's just a matter of getting a police officer to point the jammer at the drone and keep it pointed until the drone is down.

  15. ecofeco Silver badge

    Drone wars

    For some reason, Bill Murray doing the lounge version of Star Wars came to mind, except substitute "drone" for "star."

    Thanks for the pint. I'm off.--------------------------------->>>

  16. JassMan Silver badge

    More fans wins

    The cop'copter only won 'cos it is a hexacopter against a quad. Just wait the civvies are armed with octocopters. Mwah haha.

    Maybe someone could tie 2 quads together with the controls reversed on the second one and see if if works. These things seem to fly equally well upside down anyway so it should be possible.

    1. nil0

      Re: More fans wins

      > tie 2 quads together

      They could probably carry a coconut like that. I suppose it depends whether they're African or European quadcopters.

  17. RyokuMas Silver badge


    Drones??? Come on Japan, where are the god damn giant police robots?!?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sounds like something thought up by people who haven’t ever flow a "drone"

    With added weight (of a net) you lose speed and manoeuvrability due to the extra weight, smaller drones especially 250 class ones would run rings around something like a 450 with an added net to carry around.. it sounds more like a sport waiting to happen.

    Its like sending an Austin allegro after a Ferrari. I look forward to the incoming youtube videos...

  19. Impunitus


    Methinks the fellas are having fun.

    On a more serious note though, bringing down the unwanted drones is not the way to go. Far better would be to follow them to the owner and then file the proper charges against him. Losing a drone is negligible compared to doing time.

    Just my (deflated) 5 Euro Cents.


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