To keep drones out of high-risk areas, companies try hijacking them and shooting them down – LA Times
As private drone use has soared, so has concern about keeping the remote-controlled aircraft away from sensitive and high-risk areas such as airports, nuclear power plants and prisons.
Those concerns are heightened by high-profile incidents such as the near collision in March of a drone and a Lufthansa jet approaching Los Angeles International Airport. In 2013 a drone crash landed in front of German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a campaign event, and a quadcopter crashed on the White House lawn in 2015.
Defense giants Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., as well as a handful of start-ups, have jumped into the fray, developing technology ranging from detection systems to more disruptive solutions such as software that forces unauthorized drones to go home or land safely and laser cannons that shoot unwanted drones out of the sky.
Though the counterdrone industry is still nascent, the global market — including both civilian and military uses — could be worth at least several hundreds of millions of dollars, said Michael Blades, senior industry analyst for aerospace and defense at research and consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
“With all the talk of how many drones are going to be flying around and, at least on the commercial side, how much privacy is going to be an issue, I think these companies saw an opportunity,” he said.
Much will depend on how well the technology works. It’s not easy to devise a system that tracks and identifies tiny drones, and stops unauthorized ones without knocking out everything — or creating a safety hazard.
“This rapid proliferation of start-ups, of large companies all proposing systems that deal with the issue in different ways, suggests to me that there isn’t one single unifying solution for how to bring drones out of the sky,” said Arthur Holland Michel, co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York. “Every single step of the process is challenging.”
That starts with identifying whether drones are friendly or rogue.
Autonomous drone-detection systems need to be sophisticated enough to distinguish between slow-moving drones and birds, or even the signals emitted from drones compared with those emitted by cellphones.
Detection systems will likely need to integrate a number of sensors such as acoustics, cameras, radio frequency or even radar to create “multilayer capability,” Blades said.
Other companies and organizations are looking into the interdiction, or disruptive, aspect of how to safely deal with a drone threat once it is identified.
LA is aerospace country, so you would think there might be a good idea or two to solve the problem – certainly plenty of very smart people. This is the Sunday Business section with one million readers – public awareness is increasing.
It is important to understand that this is going to turn out a lot like every other kind of cyber security issue. One side gains, the other side counters and they see saw back and forth. Right now an amazing amount of energy is being focused on countering the threat of DJI drones. They are challenging because they are small. But they are a mass manufactured product so they behave in certain consistent ways and utilize a known approach to certain technical issues.
But if someone truly wants to do harm, they will not use a DJI and they will pay much more attention to making sure that their communication links cannot be