American researchers are examining whether the flocking instincts of pigeons can be harnessed to counter armed drones as the rapid development of ‘swarm’ technology prompts warnings that the emerging UAV threat is difficult to contain
Imagine several terrorist drones carrying primed hand grenades buzzing towards a civilian or military target, leaving its defenders with just moments to deploy their state-of-the-art countermeasure. With a furious beating of wings, the precision weapon designed to send the deadly machine crashing to the ground is launched – a squadron of kamikaze pigeons.
Far-fetched as it may sound, the idea is one of those being explored by American researchers as the defence and security sector scrambles to respond to the extraordinary pace of development in drones – or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) – which is seeing robotic and increasingly capable autonomous aircraft move rapidly from the purview of state militaries into the technological and commercial mainstream.
The pigeon research, being carried out by an unnamed private US company according to an industry expert, aims to harness the birds’ natural flocking instincts and acute vision to draw them towards the particular sound and motion of a “quadcopter” drone. The birds will be trained to fly at a machine or machines en masse, neutralising an attack on a potential target from an airport to an open-air concert at the cost of their own lives.
Life is now wierder than anything Beachcomber ever invented.