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Tokyo police to introduce 'interceptor drones'

An "interceptor drone" is seen netting a suspicious drone, in this image taken from footage provided by the Metropolitan Police Department.

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is set to introduce "interceptor drones" aimed at spotting and catching suspicious private drones, it was announced on Dec. 10.

    Starting in mid-December, the interceptor drones will be operated round-the-clock by trained riot police personnel, keeping watch for any drones flying above key facilities such as the prime minister's office in Tokyo. Each drone measures around 1 meter in diameter, with a 2 meter by 3 meter net suspended from its body.

    The MPD's move, the first of its kind in the country, comes in the wake of a drone found atop the prime minister's office in the capital's Chiyoda Ward in April this year. The drone was mounted with a smoke canister and a plastic container holding radiation-contaminated soil, raising the need for measures against terrorism using drones. The MPD decided to introduce interceptor drones after reviewing anti-drone efforts taken overseas.

    According to the MPD, in case a suspicious drone is spotted, police officers will first track down the device's operator and warn them to halt the flight. If the officers fail to find the operator near the scene, or the flight continues despite the warning, they will scramble an interceptor drone to catch the suspicious counterpart mid-air.

    The interceptor drones will be equipped with a camera, and riot squad members can remotely manipulate the devices with portable terminals.

    The MPD decided to test the interceptor drones when the revised Civil Aeronautics Act came into effect on Dec. 10. At a meeting the same day on counterterrorism measures in preparation for the Ise-Shima Summit slated for May next year, MPD deputy superintendent general Fumio Yamashita said, "We will beef up security at key facilities using interceptor drones in order to prevent danger and obstruction caused by drones."

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