Falcons' flying lessons to improve drones.
PEREGRINE falcons attack their prey on the wing as if they were air-to-air guided missiles, a study carried out in the Black Mountains has found.
Lessons from the birds' control strategy could aid the development of robot interceptors designed to bring down rogue drones, scientists believe.
For the study, researchers obtained a birds-eye-view of falcons in flight using miniature video cameras attached to the raptors' backs.
They also analysed flight patterns using GPS tracking devices carried by the birds.
Eight falcons were tested with dummy prey thrown into the air or towed behind a remotely controlled drone.
The video recordings also showed opportunistic attacks on live targets, including five passes at a duck that was eventually forced to land.
Lead investigator Professor Graham Taylor, from Oxford University's Department of Zoology, said: "Falcons are classic aerial predators, synonymous with agility and speed.
"Our GPS tracks and on-board videos show how peregrine falcons intercept moving targets that don't want to be caught.
"Remarkably, it turns out that they do this in a similar way to most guided missiles.
"Our next step is to apply this research to designing a new kind of visually guided drone, able to remove rogue drones safely from the vicinity of airports, prisons and other no-fly zones."
The research could help tackle the growing problem of drones flying drugs and mobile phones into prison.