Counter-Drone Technology Takes Flight

The widespread popularity of consumer drones has meant many new possibilities for photographers and videographers, hobbyists, professional applications such as monitoring agricultural and industrial areas, and commercial uses such as Amazon’s exploration of using drones for product delivery.

However, with this new expansion comes several potential risks. Drones have been spotted near sensitive areas such as airports, and private citizens have privacy worries about the devices.

To this end, a number of new start ups have emerged with the goal of producing technology to rein in drones used by bad actors. Drones have been used to smuggle contraband, and there was a case of extremists in Iraq using a drone as an Improvised Explosive Device (IED).

Dutch police forces bought several birds of prey from a start-up to use in disabling drones in unwanted areas, and other methods include interception by larger drones or by a device firing a net at the offending drone. There are also applications to monitor drone activity, jam video signals, or take over the drone entirely.

Part of the problem is that regulators haven’t yet caught up to the new reality. Drones are treated as private property, so in many places they can’t legally be disabled except by the authorities. This could even be the case if a drone is flying above someone’s home or yard – as airspace has for years been considered public property. On the flip side, line-of-sight regulations are still restrictive, preventing the full range of possible commercial uses (and potentially opening up firms testing drones to legal penalties or restrictions if the laws aren’t clear).

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Copyright for image: mimacz / 123RF Stock Photo

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