Researchers from Oxford University are studying the
way Hawks catch prey to help develop the guidance
systems for an aircraft to catch rogue drones.
The problem of how to deal with drones that enter
controlled airspaces such as no-fly zones at airports and
classified government areas has been growing in
importance after several incidents, notably the use of a
drone at Gatwick airport near London in the UK, which
closed the airport for three days in December 2018.
Various methods and technologies are being developed
that use projectiles, jamming of radio communications,
other drones to capture drones.
Researchers at the Oxford Flight Group are conducting
research that investigates the behavior of Hawks to
improve understanding of flight dynamics and develop
new controls and guidance systems. The research has
direct applications in the aerospace and defense sector.
The researchers used four S-PRI high speed cameras
from Lake Image Systems running at 250fps to capture the
flight trajectories of five captive-bred Harris’ Hawks during
50 flights against an erratically-moving target.
The course was up to 50m long and each flight
recording lasted up to eight seconds. A target for the hawk
was pulled using a glider winch around a set of pulleys laid
out along the ground so that it zigzagged.
For the videogrammetry capture and analysis a
calibration target was moved through the imaging volume
and markers were attached to the hawk. The cameras and
data acquisition network had to be set up and
synchronized for each run. Ethernet cables were used to
transmit the data to a laptop.
Graham Taylor, professor of mathematical biology at
Oxford University and one of the researchers on the project
said, “One of the limiting factors, apart from the Hawks, was
how long it takes to download the data from the cameras.
The images get buffered and then have to be downloaded
to the laptop before they can be used again. This can be a
bit limiting when you have a hawk stood waiting to fly.” \\
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