The U.S. military is turning its attention to anti-drone detection.
The Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx), which is a United States Department of Defense (DoD) organization focused on how the U.S. military can use emerging technologies, this week announced a partnership with Dedrone, a San Francisco-based startup building drone detection software.
DIUx is experimenting with Dedrone’s technology to provide situational awareness of drone activity over protected sites, according to a news release. Dedrone has worked with the DoD previously through a two-month airspace activity survey with Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Washington, D.C. During this time, Dedrone and JBM-HH detected unauthorized drones infiltrating the airspace, despite the area being a no-fly zone.
The DoD has been widely exploring anti-drone solutions for a while now. Last July, the DoD announced that it awarded a $1.5 million contract to San Diego-based startup SkySafe to provide mobile counter-drone systems to Naval Special Warfare units. SkySafe is able to detect and selectively control individual drones, largely via radio waves. Its systems are not available to the general public, but the company works with “qualified public safety customers.”
Dedrone uses sensors, including RF/WiFi scanners, microphones and cameras to collect data and determine whether or not a drone is in a certain area, as well as analyze its flight path and the type of drone.
But detecting drones doesn’t necessarily mean that potential drone threats are eliminated. In the U.S., it is illegal to shoot down a drone when it is flying in the air.
Instead, drone detection technologies simply allow the user to detect where the pilot is located and confront them, such as in the case of the famous drone pilot who made aerial tours of the Apple campus in Cupertino, Calif. The pilot said that Apple security is able to track him down in 10 minutes or less.
Of course, 10 minutes could be considered a long time in the world of drone flights — and could be enough time for someone with nefarious plans to cause some damage.
Just about the flight endurance of a Phantom https://t.co/CdYrDsDTFM
— sUAS News (@sUASnews) April 17, 2018
Drones that can be purchased for a few hundred dollars have been increasingly causing problems at major events. They have crashed into cyclists during races, and in 2015, a DJI Phantom drone crashed near the White House — though both of those crashes were confirmed to have not been intended for nefarious purposes.
And just last week, Saudi Arabian security forces said they had shot down a recreational drone in the capital city of Riyadh. It is unclear whether that drone was flying for nefarious purposes, but officials say the government would introduce regulations for the use of recreational drones.