The Future of Anti-Drone Technology
It cannot be denied that drones have brought lots of fun to everyday lives. There is the excitement of seeing a remote location; there is the intensity of racing with other pilots; and there is the fulfillment of just being able to fly a quad. Unfortunately, despite all of the good things they have brought, they have also destroyed humanity’s daily life. From being used as a spy camera to weapons to even the ubiquitous of noise harassment, these things seem to never stop.
The idea of catching drones has always been there. In fact, police and militaries are always on the lookout, looking for ways to counter these drone exploits. They have been continuously experimenting with everything, be it lasers to eagles. Many experts nowadays are looking into the technology courtesy of a drone jammer, which is designed to protect you from being disturbed.
Here is everything you need to know about the anti-drone technology, as well as the future it could bring.
How Anti-Drone Technology Could Help
Drone safety has always been a hot topic,especially with the never-ending surge of people buying drones. Apparently,these flying machines are starting to become more powerful, let alone gigantic in numbers. Before, you would often see drones being bought and used by the rich and the military. Nowadays, however, everyone has access to them; hence, they have rapidly grown in popularity.
There are few factors why drone safety risk is heightened across the globe. Technically speaking, drones are limited by its power and, thus, could easily fall from the sky. But in terms of commercial aviation – particularly where safety incidents or crashes are rare – the problems involving drones are gradually increasing. For instance, in 2014,there were less than 250 drone safety incidents reported. But in 2017, the number grew and there were around 1600 complaints filed. Given the risks and threat that drones possess, there is no wonder the anti-drone system exists(more details later).
Imagine a scenario where a drone is being flown far away from its controller or operator. You could easily tell that there is a greater chance of collision with vehicles, street lamps, buildings,or, worse, people. And believe it or not, another surprising challenge for drone safety is the weather. Sometime in 2016, Facebook’s drones reportedly crashed when they got hit by wind with an increasing speed of up to 18 knots.Other reports, though, suggest that the social media giant’s drone’s had a faulty automatic landing feature, which could possibly be the reason behind the incident. Either way, it only conveys the same message: drones possess a great threat.
Ways Anti-Drone Technology Is Performed
Capture the Drone
To help you better understand the gist behind the counter drone technology, let’s picture a scenario. Say you are responsible for air traffic control at a busy airport like San Francisco Airport. You are told that two drones have recently been detected and they are in a restricted airspace. Not only are you going to make some announcements,but you also need to consider ways on how to stop these drones from becoming safety hazards. But do you have any idea on how it can be done?
You might think it is funny but it is actually possible to capture those drones and bring them to the ground straightaway. And oh, you do not have to be an expert marksman – or hire one – just to get the job done. So what will you be using instead? What are you going to do to mitigate this problem? The key is to use the so-called anti-drone technology, which is also known as anti-drone security. As the name suggests,it uses some sort of net that captures quad-copters and brings them to the ground for good.
Unlike traditional weapons, this type of anti-drone technology is not expected to inflict much damage on the device. So instead of destroying the drone, it only captures it; hence, little to no damage is done. From there, you can start investigating while attempting to identify the pilot behind it. While this technology definitely works, it easily faces the challenge of high visibility. But hey, it is just one anti-drone technology on the market – there are plenty of them out there.
Hacking the Drone
Physically capturing a drone is doable,but it does not mean it is the right solution all the time. For example, there is a possibility that police or militaries are interested in information and/or surveillance. If this kind of situation surfaces, the most viable solution is hacking and interference. They are just more attractive to do than physically capturing quad-copters. Also a type of anti-drone security, this is where you must rely on skill hackers in order to take control of the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Interestingly, there are a handful of products designed to deliver this technology. What is more is that some are no longer relying on jamming or drone jamming technology (more on this below). It is instead tailored to trigger safety processes, all of which are programmed into most drones. Some of these processes are commanding the aircraft to land or find its way home.
The fundamental principle behind this anti-drone system is pretty straightforward. You simply need to disrupt the radio signal from the user of the aircraft and substitute it with your own control signal. Interestingly, this has already been done in the field. Take for example the Swiss police force, which used a bazooka-style anti-drone gun as part of its security operations. And do you know where they used it? It was during the height of the World Economic Forum.
Introducing the Drone Jamming Technology
Drone jamming technology is quite like the anti-drone technology. Well, actually, it is – but the way it is done is very much different. This technology is capable of blocking the standard 2.4Ghz radio frequency, though some of the newer models can jam up to 5.8Ghz radio frequency. And mind you, some jammers out there can cover a blocking range of about 1500 meters. It is so effective and superb that even the highest-altitude UAV can be brought down. In a sense, you will not worry about someone spying or disturbing your personal privacy.
So how does it exactly work? And what happens to the drone?
The concept of drone jamming technology is as simple as anti-drone technology. Basically, it can block GPS, WIFI signals,and even cellular communication, just to name a few. As soon as a jammer or counter drone technology is locked onto a UAV, it immediately disrupts the radio signals and GPS guiding the latter. And given its range and frequency,the locking can be instantaneous. Unfortunately, the disruption it brings is bad news to the drones, most especially the cheaper ones. That is because cheaper and fewer complex UAVs will automatically fall to the ground as soon as they get hit by a jammer.
As for high-end drones, they have a feature or technology called the fall-back mode. Meaning, it would just immediately return home or hover to the nearest landing or ground. Luckily for this feature, it gives the drone the ability to prevent getting damaged. It is worth noting, however, that the jammer does not necessarily damage the drone itself.It does nothing but disrupts the signals. So if there are damages, it is rather caused by the landing or falling, no the drone jamming technology itself.
In some cases, the drone could belong to a person using it for exploits and other illegal activities. As such, law enforcement will easily have the means to confiscate the drone. And since it is intact, it will have evidence and surveillance whatsoever for whatever purpose they would deed necessary. Now, if the quad’s protocol is to return to home base as soon as the fall-back mode activates, law enforcement could track down its path and find the exploiter.
The Legality of Drone Jammers
As mentioned above, the drone jamming technology is purposely built to block radio signals, as well as cellular communication, GPS, and WIFI signals. Apparently, though, doing any of these is considered illegal in various countries, states, and/or municipalities. In other words, you could not just purchase a jammer and get away with it. Law enforcement might be onto you right away. So before you even jump into this decision of buying and using a jammer, it is important to check your local regulations first. It is worth noting, too, that the utilization of drone jamming technology is often limited and allowed to military, federal, or other law enforcement bodies. This is simply due to the fact that the law permits them to do so.
A Necessary Evil
You might think that using the phrase“necessary evil” is too much, but it is actually the closest one. It holds true that nobody in the drone industry desires to witness drones falling from mid-air. As for you, it is disappointing to see your buddy spiraling down.However, a lot of law enforcement groups, as well as event managers or organizers, are raising concerns and arguing that technology is increasingly necessary. In fact, it has come to a point where the likes of an anti-drone gun or any anti-drone system have become a much-needed requirement in many properties. And just imagine how popular it has become in just a span of few short years.
You can even agree that some of the today’s drones, including consumer models, are built with superbly sophisticated platforms that no longer require a huge input from the user. Most novices can easily choose a drone from industry giants like DJI and start getting attuned to the drone’s controls in just a matter of seconds. But as the growing number of capable drones fly into the sky, the threats they pose also increase.
What is disheartening, though, is that the most serious risks involving these unmanned aerial vehicles have yet to be identified. Or perhaps they have already been realized, but the government or even hobbyists have yet to see its existence. Want to know what these could possibly? Well, the most likely ones are weaponization and espionage.
Take for example the events that had happened in the past, which involved the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau. The government agency basically released a memo that accused the aforementioned Chinese manufacturer of performing spy activities on the critical infrastructure in the United States. And since drones are about great accessibility and ease of use, the door to various malicious intents or purposes is always open. Unlike before, it is now possible to fly over a drone and spy on a sensitive area or location.
The Need for Anti-Drone Technology Cannot Be Ignored
This does not mean, however, that there is a need to stop the usage of drones. Doing so is foolish and does not do anything well to the economy of a country. But just because it can be allowed,it does not mean safety precautions are no longer needed. Ignoring the need fora counter-drone technology is suggesting irresponsibility. So what could possibly be the options? It is interesting to note that the anti-drone technology market is packed with competing methods when it comes to handling rogue unmanned aerial vehicles. This could be anything from the unsophisticated yet working solutions to the more highly technical and kinetic options.
For example, there is this Dutch company that trains eagles in order to help bring down drones. It is not necessarily a modern approach, but his unconventional solution guarantees results. There are also other kinetic methods, and these are the types that fully engage and subdue a wayward UAV in a net before it could even land safely using a drone parachute.
But it is perhaps the more restrained solutions to counter-drone technology that hold the biggest potential of all.These include the likes of GPS interference, software exploitation, and radio interference. Software exploitation, in particular, is safe to say a more versatile counter-drone technology technique. This is where you hack rouge drones while in mid-air. As such, it could give law enforcement an effective means to take control of drones from a safe location or distance. Considering how it works,it definitely has more flexibility than the option offered by a drone jamming technology or even the infamous anti-drone gun.
Moving forward, it is expected that a good number of anti-drone systems will soon be installed in every sensitive area in hopes of dealing a wide range of threats brought by drones. As a matter of fact, a few companies have already started deploying these solutions in their properties. Some of these solutions introduce the combination of electronic,visual, and audio detection methods, which are proven to cover different types of UAVs.
Balancing Drone Safety with Innovation
It is truly disappointing to see your drone captured or jammed, especially when all you want is to fly it. But hey, it is what it is. But how can drone users like you and companies prevent their unmanned aerial vehicles from getting captured or disabled? Surprisingly, your best course of action here is to work alongside the law enforcement and regulators. That way, clearer rules will be generated and implemented. In addition, manufacturers of drones may consider forestalling heavy-handed regulation by any building or property in warnings straight into a drone’s systems. For example, it could have a feature that alerts you if the drone is getting close to a restricted area. Such warnings could be extremely beneficial, as it can nudge drone hobbyists to start better managing their aircraft. To put it simply, there are ways to mitigate this never-ending problem involving drones – and the answer is innovation.
The Final Verdict
Whether you agree or disagree, there is nothing that you can do about the anti-drone technology or the drone jamming technology. They are all here to stay, especially when the threats or risks continue to increase. Besides, there is really no surprise that this technology is taking off. For starters, there is an explosion of interest in the drone industry. Plus, people who are fond of it are mostly doing so without proper pilot training.
Based on the early usage, it is only expected from law enforcement and the military to continue embracing the anti-drone technology. This also means that they will always be its primary customers or users. And as the concern surrounding drone safety continues to bring uneasiness, people may soon witness different anti-drone technology implementation. You never know: it would soon be mandated at airports. The good thing here, though, is that this technology will become a more popular option than weapons.