by Drone Reporter Rachel Borene
As more drones take the sky, concerned citizens, as well as military officials, are
wondering what steps can be taken to protect people from rogue drones. Did you know that it’s currently illegal to destroy an unknown drone that’s flying in the airspace above your private property? Though it may seem like you own the airspace above your land, a properly registered drone is considered to be an official aircraft by the Federal Aviation Committee, and you can be punished for destroying a drone with fines or even up to twenty years in prison.
That’s right: blasting away a peeping drone can get you in trouble, rather than the pilot! Feeling offended or even frightened? As the need for protection against rogue drones increases, so too have the efforts of researchers to create methods that stop drones without destroying them. This is especially important in the case of drones that are spying for opposing military forces, as the government will need to capture and inspect the drone for evidence.
Perhaps the most obvious solution to intercept an uninvited drone is to catch it with
another drone, and that’s exactly what officials in Tokyo have done. Using what appears to be a DJI Spreading Wings 900 equipped with a 3 x 2-meter net, the drone in Tokyo scoops the enemy drone right out of the air.
Catching a drone may still be considered tampering with an aircraft, however, so
another solution is to set up alert systems that warn someone if a drone is on
their property. Using acoustic technology, Washington-based company Droneshield can
detect a drone from up to 150 miles away. The program then sends an alert by SMS,
text, or video to the property owner. It can even detect drones that are invisible to radar, and has been implemented in several prisons to intercept drones that are smuggling contraband to inmates. The Droneshield program was even rumored to have gained the interest of producers during the filming of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, in an
attempt to keep curious fans from filming in the air space above the studio, though it’s reported that the program was never actually implemented during production. (4)
The next step after being alerted to a rogue drone is lead by the company Skysafe, who is working on a program that can safely take control of drones, overriding the
commands of the pilot. Once its controls are overridden by Skysafe, the drone can then be landed and any of its additional functions- such as filming- can be shut down. (5)
If an emergency situation occurs where a drone must be destroyed, researchers at Boeing, an aircraft manufacturing company, have developed a laser that blasts drones right out of the sky. Though invisible to the human eye, the laser strikes the drone with deadly precision, setting it on fire and rendering it completely useless.
Now, it may become obvious that several of these programs could be used against one
another. In the Netherlands, however, their drone defense system can’t be taken over
by competing technology—because they’re using birds! The Dutch National Police
Corps has partnered with a company called Guard From Above, and together, they’re
training large birds of prey—such as eagles—to snatch drones out of the sky.
No matter what the future holds, the journey of discovering a good defense system against rogue drones is just as exciting as drone technology itself!