The number of drones in private ownership has exploded in the past year, and after Christmas there are going to potentially be a million more buzzing through the skies. While drones have a lot of positive uses, they're also causing trouble, from interfering with emergency personnel to knocking out power and crashing into babies.
There's also the real threat of terrorists attaching bombs to drones and flying them into heavily guarded areas. In April, a drone carrying radioactive material landed on the roof of the Japanese prime minister's office. That's why governments are scrambling to mount a response.
The U.S. government is setting up a registration system so it can track down drone owners who break the law. The Japanese government is taking a slightly different approach. It's using drones to defend against drones.
Yes, the Japanese police force now has a unit of net-carrying drones. If an unknown drone flies into a restricted area, the police will announce over loudspeakers that the drone is in restricted airspace. Hopefully whoever is operating the drone nearby will hear it and turn the drone around.
If not, the police will deploy their drones. The police drones will fly over the rogue drone and drop the net on it, bringing it down to the ground. It's a simple solution, but potentially effective.
Of course, if drone operators counter with net-cutting hardware, the police will have to change tactics. Forget a future of jet-size military drones fighting it out in the skies, we could eventually see battles of tiny drones and drone swarms.