To help design good drones that can intercept bad drones, scientists have taken a close look at the way hawks attack their prey.
In particular, they wanted to see if there is some kind of pattern involved in how these large birds set and adapt their flight paths.
Previous research has shown that falcons – which have a similar modus operandi – track their prey using proportional navigation, the same guidance law as used for homing missiles.
This works well for aerial targets but can be thrown off by the zigzagging manoeuvres of terrestrial prey such as hares or jackrabbits. As such, suggest Caroline Brighton and Graham Taylor form the University of Oxford, UK, it will not necessarily lead to a feasible path through the cluttered habitats hawks frequent.