Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Drone Punk

There have been many interesting reactions to the rise of drone use across the globe. While there are many criticisms and praises for the use of UAS by the defense industry, and many who could complain or commend ad nauseum the growth of the consumer drone industry, there are only a few who have taken action and done something about it.

In London yesterday, an Airbus coming into Heathrow Airport is believed to have been hit by a drone flying 1,300 feet above the legal limit for consumer drone use in the UK. In reaction to this and other drone incursions, London police are brainstorming ways to prevent or interfere with drones presenting a safety/security risk in the future. One option discussed has been referred to as the "Death Ray" for drones. Although this method sounds very future-tech, sci-fi movie-esque, it is actually a known method for interfering with drone usage, which relies upon the use of technology to jam the radio signals which control the drone, making it effectively impossible to fly.

Almost more exciting is the approach being taken in the Netherlands. The Dutch police have been working with a local company to train falcons and eagles to retrieve drones mid-air and bring them back to a designated 'safe spot' for the police to collect them – and, of course, to reward the birds. These large birds of prey are capable of doing certain things that other technology is not. They can not only stop the drones, but are able to physically capture them and remove them from the area to a safe spot, as opposed to knocking the drones out of the air and creating a potential safety risk for citizens below. They are also much more nimble and accurate than other ideas considered, such as using larger or multiple drones and netting in order to capture the targeted drone.

While an actual death ray has yet to be built, the use of attack-eagles has certainly brought the discussion about drones and security risks to a new level of comedy – and, let's admit it, respect. This is a hilarious, awesome, and as far as I can tell, a very effective method of eliminating potential security threats posed by drones.

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