Drone Killers – Detect and Disable/Destroy Systems

The consumer drone market is exploding, with 4.9 million shipped in 2014 and predicted 90 million to be shipped during 2025 (ABIresearch).  And that doesn’t include the commercial drone market. With more and more of these aerial devices flying overhead there are bound to be some problems.
The concern goes from rogue drones meant to do harm to those merely flying off-course.
To address these issues many have been looking at various solutions in what could be the next big business opportunity in the industry … how to detect and destroy, disable or control a rogue drone.

U.S. Military Challenge

Looking for innovative ideas for small UAV/drone detection and take-down, in December 2016, 6 bases among the U.S. Air Force competed in the 2016 AFRL Commanders Challenge to determine the best counter UAS strategy. The teams were tasked to come up with innovative ideas for countering threats from small UAV/drones. Various solutions for drone detection, tracking, and take-down were implemented. Watch the above video to see some of those solutions.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is a scientific research organization operated by the United States Air Force Materiel Command dedicated to leading the discovery, development, and integration of affordable aerospace warfighting technologies, planning and executing the Air Force science and technology program, and provide warfighting capabilities to United States air, space, and cyberspace forces.

Here are some other options:

Drone Hunting Eagles

In the Netherlands, the National Police Corps are looking at various solutions to intercept unwanted drones, including using eagles working with police officers.  In the above video published by the Netherlands Police, a handler releases an eagle that immediately swoops at a hovering quadcopter, grabs the device in mid air with its powerful talons, and then flies off with it in its grip to a designated corner of the training area.

The Dutch National Police Corps released  a statement  announcing a new initiative that uses birds of prey like the eagle to intercept unwanted aerial drones. The program was developed and tested in partnership with Guard from Above (GFA), a Dutch company located in the Hague that specializes in training large, predatory birds to “hunt” and subdue robotic prey.

Japan Police Drone Catcher

Japan police introduce drone interceptor – 警視庁の迎撃ドローン

Another solution to respond to rogue aerial drones was demonstrated in Dec 2015 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.    The system uses a police drone with a net-like attachment that flies after, intercepts and captures another drone in mid air flight.

Technologically, the configuration it looks rather simple, however, it also seems to be effective:  Chase the rogue intruder drone down with a fast, maneuverable drone and make it crash into a net hanging below the interceptor drone.  The captured drone can then be flown out of harms way.

A similar system was demonstrated in Jan 2015 by the French company Groupe assmann group company Malou Tech.

See the drone catcher system in action !

AirBus Drone Disable System

Airbus drone disable system
Image: Airbus

Airbus has revealed another approach to the rogue drone issue.  The new ‘drone killer’ system that can automatically monitor an area – and disable the drone by jamming its signals.

According the the Airbus press release, Airbus Defense and Space, Inc. has developed a Counter-UAV System which detects illicit intrusions of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) over critical areas at long ranges and offers electronic countermeasures minimizing the risk of collateral damage.

This could be of particular interest to critical installations such as factories, airports or nuclear plants.   The system offers very high effectiveness by combining sensor data from different sources with latest data fusion, signal analysis and jamming technologies. It uses operational radars, infrared cameras and direction finders from Airbus Defence and Space’s portfolio to identify the drone and assess its threat potential at ranges between 3.1 and 6.2 miles (5 and 10 Kilometers).

Based on an extensive threat library and real-time analysis of control signals, a jammer interrupts the link between drone and pilot and/or its navigation. Furthermore, the direction finder tracks the position of the pilot who subsequently can be dealt with by law enforcement. Due to the Smart Responsive Jamming Technology developed by Airbus Defence and Space, the jamming signals are blocking only the relevant frequencies used to operate the drone while other frequencies in the vicinity remain operational. Since the jamming technology contains versatile receiving and transmitting capabilities, more sophisticated measures like remote control classification and GPS spoofing can be utilized as well. This allows effective and specific jamming and, therefore, a takeover of the UAV.

Depending on the required configuration, an operational system will be available from mid-2016.

SkyWall 100 Drone Defense System

The British company OpenWorks Engineering is behind the device SkyWall 100 which is essentially an intelligent bazooka that fires a canister filled with a net to wrap up a drone upto 100 meters away. According to the OpenWorks website, “The SkyWall system is a combination of a compressed gas powered smart launcher and an intelligent programmable projectile. The first system being released is SkyWall100; a man-portable handheld launcher that is highly mobile and a cost effective way of dealing with the drone threat.”

DroneDefender

Another alternative for stopping rogue drones, the battelle DroneDefender, doesn’t shoot or knock them out of the sky, but utilizes a non-kinetic solution to defend airspace up to 400m against UAV, such as quadcopters and hexacopters, without compromising safety or risking collateral damage. It is a shoulder-fired weapon that uses radio waves to provide instantaneous disruption of unwanted drones using two different defenses:
1. Remote control drone disruption
2. GPS disruption
More about the DroneDefender

Anti-UAV Defence System

The Anti-UAV Defence System (AUDS) combines electronic-scanning radar target detection, electro-optical (EO) tracking/classification and directional RF inhibition capability. The AUDS Team brings together three leading British companies, each with the unique capabilities required to create an effective counter UAV system. Blighter’s A400 series air security radars are able to DETECT small UAVs in all weather conditions, 24 hours a day flying in urban areas or near to the horizon. The Chess Dynamics Hawkeye Deployable System (DS) and EO Video Tracker, featuring both a long range colour camera and a high sensitivity Thermal Imager (TI), along with state-of-the-art video tracking technology, is able to TRACK the UAV and, combined with radar target information, classify the target. The operator is then able to make a timely and informed decision to use the Enterprise Control Systems (‘ECS’), smart RF inhibitor to selectively interfere with the C2 channels on the UAV allowing the system to DISRUPT the UAV’s mission. The smart RF inhibitor uses directional antennas to achieve maximum range of operation with minimum collateral effect.

Source – Blighter Surveillance Systems

Shotgun

Then there is an option of taking a shotgun and shooting down an unwanted drone flying overhead.  Not recommended as this could, however, lead to legal trouble as the man who was arrested for doing just such an action.