Japanese capital Tokyo seems to be well prepared to prevent terrorism and other threats from unmanned aircraft. Its Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) has come up with a special-design drone that carries net and is capable of capturing other unmanned aircraft spotted in the airspace of restricted areas.
Such initiative to battle illegal and potentially hostile drones is first of its own kind in Japan.
Drone threats were on rise after an unmanned aircraft landed on the roof of prime minister’s residence carrying a small amount of radioactive sand earlier this year in April.
As of now only one such net-wielding interceptor drone attached to a specially-trained riot police unit will be deployed by the MPD and by early next year more such unmanned aircraft will join.
The six-rotor drone measures just about one meter in diameter and to carry net of about six-square-meter. It will be equipped with a camera to help officers remotely manipulate it using a portable terminal.
According to Japan Today, dozens of trained officers in drone operations will start working in the unit this month. Police will issue warnings with the help of loudspeakers seeing suspicious drones to help the pilot take it away from the restricted area or else risk the property.
As of now, in a trial run, the drone squad will be providing coverage for day and night for a full month and in February next year the initiative will fully go into effect. A total of ten drones will be added to the fleet then.
According to a member of the police department’s Security Bureau, terrorist attacks with the help of unmanned aircraft are possibility and they hope to defend the functions of the country keeping in mind the worst-case scenario.
In Japan flying of unmanned aircraft including drones is illegal over certain areas such as power plants, airports or above height of 150m. In cities like Osaka and Tokyo flying over parks is also not allowed.
Paul Haswell from legal firm Pinsent Masons said, “In Japan, it is illegal to pilot drones over certain areas such as airports and power plants, over roads, or above a height of 150m.”
Rules have been tightened following an amendment to the Aviation Act of Japan. Similarly several other countries too have tightened their laws in relation to the drone. In the US drone register has been called to list owners of the tiny flying object across the nation.
Drones are highly popular in Japan and the new rules are designed to improve safety. The drones that weigh more than 200 grams will not be allowed to be flown in the designated built-up areas.
Changes in the Civil Aeronautics Law have also been made and this bans flying of drones near to airports and also at large gatherings like sports events and festivals.
Rules breakers could be fined up to 500,000 yen, which is around $4,100. Those who seek to fly in restricted areas need to apply for permission with regulators and each such application is said to be examined on a case-by-case basis.