HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech University is widely known for its engineering programs. ABC 10’s Caleb Scanlon tells us how they’re now taking their expertise to the air.
In the Human Interactive Robotics Lab at Michigan Tech, an innovative way of handling threatening drones has been created.
Through what Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering Mo Rastgaar calls a pet project, a drone catcher has been made.
“We bring up this drone catcher and it throws a net,” said MTU Associate Professor Mo Rastgaar, “and it captures the intruding drone. We have a visual feedback currently that we can see the intruding drone.”
Rastgaar added that using a net for an unwanted drone has a multitude of advantages.
“Force landing them is not a solution because again they are probably carrying explosives they are going to explode at that area and it’s not going to meet the need that we have.”
The drone that is being used is the largest in the market, and is able to carry anything up to an equivalent weight. The net that is shot is 8 feet by 8 feet and can hit a target from as far as 40 feet at this time, although expansion past the current prototype is likely.
“Because the net is so large it doesn’t require very precise aiming,” said Michigan Tech Research Engineer Evandro Ficanha, “you can just shoot in the general direction of the target and it will catch. So if you can make it much bigger and more powerful we can increase the probability that we will catch an invading drone.”
The drone catcher can travel around 40 miles per hour on top of all of its other impressive attributes. It was recently filed for patent.