Everybody is talking about civilian drones and laws, that they must also be aware of anti-drone technology being developed to handle careless or untrained pilots. These unmanned aerial vehicles (uavs) have caught the attention of lawmakers, but what about implements beyond laws? Such as an actual small drone technology to police the skies when a pilot is not policing themselves?
The Price of Drone Technology
Headlines have long shown the possibilities of this with the crashing of UAVs into high security areas like the White House, this happened twice and the Japanese Prime Minister’s office. How do we counteract an entire industry of developers and users who either mean to use malcontent or are just sloppy in their abilities? It would be easy to see where this is going and how much hysteria the media will create as a result.
We want drones to thrive, the application possibilities are endless. It is inevitable civilians are going to immerse themselves into drones for fun and profit. There will be those pilots who will be the sole reasons counter-drone technology must be deployed at vital government buildings, and corporate headquarters. This is going to require a serious balancing act by all involved. As they must mitigate the freedom of drone technology in the hands of consumers, regulators, drone companies and privacy advocates. The two most important factors to consider are: Privacy and Safety.
As far as Counter-drone technology is concerned, here are the latest considerations for fending off unwanted drone intrusions.
In Washington, D.C. they use an acoustic technology referred to as “DroneShield”. This detects incoming drones from up to 150 yards. It will then send emails or text messages to the monitoring service if even the smallest drone breaches the perimeter. This technology is being used in prisons to stop drones from delivering contraband like drugs or cell phones to prisoners.
Droneshield was also deployed during the most recent Boston Marathon, proving it could operate in a noisier, less stable environment. The entire marathon route was declared a ‘no-drone zone’ by city officials.
Other employers of the Droneshield is said to be that of the producers of the latest Star War Movies, who wish to keep sneak-peaking geek drones from their closed sets.
This counter-drone approach is not as nice as the DroneShield. The DroneShield informs when other drones are nearby, however Maldrone is the world’s first drone virus. It simply infects approaching drones with malware, letting them plunder to the ground. The Python-language script was successfully tested by inserting the malware code into a Parrot AR Drone via Wi-Fi. The software runs on standard Linux commands on the drone’s onboard computer. It could just as easily report data from the drone’s sensors back to the attacker. The malware shuts off the drone’s autopilot system, causing it to drop out of the sky.
Maldrone was originally created to demonstrate security vulnerabilities in consumer drones rather than earn the title of a malicious drone death-ray. Unfortunately, it is not difficult to see how this drone zapper could easily reach the hands of the hacker community as a malicious method to stopping drones.
While on the subject of malicious code for combating undesirable drones, there is a Vermont based company which offer anti-hacking solutions that will stop a drone in its flight with a solution named “Pwnie Express”. Along with this product comes the mission statement which declares to “mitigate the growing attach surface created by the emerging threat vector from the Internet of Everything”. This includes vulnerable loT devices, high-risk BYOx, and purpose-built malicious hardware. Their bragging rights include the ability to self-test device security and sweeper for outside risks, including drones. So if this technology is able to combat malware, then how effective is it for another counter technology such as Maldrone?
The DJI Phantom which landed on the White House Lawn and flew undetected under the radar was defined as to small to be notice. A specialty radar company called DeTect argues this notion with their own brand of counter-drone technology. This Florida based company developed a technology that automates with fine-tuning radar to find the smallest of drones flying amongst birds and other objects. This product is already being used with a company in Spain to help detect airborne objects around a drone-testing facility.
Perhaps the truth behind launching civil drones lies in the all the resources being spent to allocate safe drone flying. Between governmental legislation being at odds, counter-drone technology development being hurried along, and civilians chomping at the bit to hit the skies with drones, there is no way to tell what stage of the game we are in. If we wish to command the skies with drones, we must learn to police ourselves in order to avoid the crippling legislation, bad public relations, and of course, the anti-drone technology.