The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced a new policing initiative this week to combat illegal drone operation in metropolitan areas.
The police drones will monitor no-fly zones, enforcing Japan’s drone legislation. Upon finding illegal activity, the drone squad will seek for the drone operator and order the drones to be grounded.
If the squad is not able to remove the drone from the air using this method, 10-foot long drone enforcers will be dispatched to collect the offending drones with large nets.
Japan also recently amended its Civil Aeronautics Law to limit the airspace of drones to 500 feet from the ground. Also, now in densely populated areas, all drones over 300 grams are banned.
The police force also has drone terrorism in mind in pursuing the program. The metropolitan police bureau recently told national media that such attacks were a possibility, and that the force hoped to defend Japan against any such scenario.
The potential for a serious attack in Japan was highlighted earlier this year, when an activist flew a drone carrying radioactive sand to the top of the office building of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The act was a protest against nuclear power, the man said, and no one was injured by the symbolic action.
The new drone squad will consist of dozens of trained officers and will begin operations later this month, according to police officials.
By Andy Stern