You can expel errant drones out of skies
At the ongoing International Defence Exhibition (Idex), a number of companies are showcasing technology designed to detect drones.
As cities around the world continue to cope with the hazards of errant drones, developers are coming up with new, innovative ways of tracking them and forcing them out of the skies.
At the ongoing International Defence Exhibition (Idex), a number of companies are showcasing technology designed to detect drones, track their movements, and pinpoint their point of origin. The German-based Aaronia, for example, has designed software that allows real-time measurement of a drone's radio frequency (RF), identifies the type of drone and tracks its operator, even in congested urban areas. The system also comes in a backpack portable version to allow the easy tracking of drone operators from amongst large crowds, such as at events.
"The benefit of our system is that the range is very high," said Aaronia CEO Thorsten Chmielus. "For a standard DJI (one of the most common civilian drones) we can track it out to about five kilometres. We can track commercial drones out to maybe 100km and toy drones that are only 20-30grams to about 100metres."
"We can find the operator before he starts the drone," he added. "To pair the drone with the remote takes about 30 seconds. So you get a 30-second alarm before the drone even starts. The drone will take a minute or two to fly to the threat zone, so you have the huge benefit of alarming earlier, compared to radar."
The radio frequency-based drone detection systems have an advantage over radar, which could interfere with airport operations, Chmielus added.
So far, about 50 sites around the world have installed Aaronia's system. According to Chmielus, Aaronia has been approached by Chinese companies that hope to install the system on every airport in the country. Once a drone flight has been picked up, a number of options exist to render them inoperable, or knock them out of the sky.
"What we offer is jamming, because that's what people ask for," Chmielus said. "But jamming isn't the best solution. There is no best solution. But it works."
Shooting drones down, Chmielus added, is a problematic option at best.
"Military guys always want to shoot everything, but in an urban environment, or over a football game, you don't want to shoot something," he said.
"Jamming is much easier. It will interfere with other equipment, unless it's smart jamming."
Another company at Idex, the Rome-based CPM Silent Signals, also offers a number of drone neutralizing solutions, including a hand-held, rifle-like design that uses high-gain directive antennas that cut off the link between the drone and the operator.
"The jammer acts by blocking all of radio frequency links from the drone to the remote control, or from the drone to the satellites," explained CPM Sales Manager Francesco Mascarino. "The drone loses all kind of signals, and stops to perform an emergency landing on its position. The system will prevent the drone from reaching its target area."
"There are also real rifles, such as rifles that shoot nets, or that shoot something else physical that hits the drone," he added.
Notably, recent photographs from the frontlines of Mosul, Iraq have depicted American soldiers holding similar handheld drone blocking devices.
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