Michigan Tech Researchers Develop Drone to Seize Renegade Drones

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Michigan Technological University researchers have created a drone catcher, designed to pursue and capture drones that could threaten air traffic, military installations, or even sporting events.

Mo Rastgaar, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech in Houghton, says he thought of the idea for the drone catcher when watching the soccer World Cup and heard about snipers protecting the crowd.

“I thought, ‘If the threat is a drone, you really don’t want to shoot it down — it might contain explosives and blow up,” Rastgaar says. “What you want to do is catch it and get it out of there.’”

He says he’s created a system that has a launcher that shoots a net attached to a large drone by a cord. Rastgaar says the net then swings down below the drone catcher, which brings its cargo to a safe location. The system can operate autonomously or can be controlled by a ground-based human pilot.

“It gets really entangled,” Rastgaar says. “It’s not going anywhere.” 

He says he’s filed for a patent on the drone catcher system and believes it could have several potential applications, from foiling spy drones, smugglers, and terrorists to supporting federal regulations.

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