BT Launches Counter Drone Solution

BT’s Enterprise unit has launched its Counter Drone Solution to help businesses detect, track, and identify drones which breach airspace and site limits.

The idea is the BT solution will help security staff respond to threats quickly and pro-actively. And BT says that where lawful, “the drone detection service can also extend to provide safe and effective countermeasures once a drone threat has been detected.”

These takedown countermeasures are said to include fixed signal blockers that can jam drones up to 1.5 kilometres away, to portable disruptors that will help to deter and defeat drones.

Drone solution

The need for such a system is clear as drones have caused widespread disruption to civil aviation. In June flights at Singapore’s main Changi airport, one of Asia’s busiest hubs, were disrupted for the second time in a week due to drone sightings.

Last December Gatwick Airport was shut for 33 hours over three days due to repeated drone sightings, which apparently cost the airport over £50m.

About 1,000 flights were cancelled or delayed, with 140,000 passengers affected.

The chaos caused Gatwick and Heathrow to invest millions in anti-drone technologies.

And climate change protesters continue to threaten to use drones around Heathrow airport.

The rogue use of drones is a real headache and Gatwick at one stage reportedly used military systems to detect drone activity.

BT said that the number of drone related incidents in the UK has risen, with issues involving civil aircraft alone rising 29 percent last year, according to UK Airprox Board.

BT’s counter drone solution is “powered by multi-sensor detection technology, an enterprise-grade network and a real-time alert system.”

The BT system has an operating range of up to 5km and 360-degree detection coverage, and it can will continuously monitor the surroundings and provide early warnings.

Military System

BT said it will be delivering its counter drone solution in partnership with DroneShield, a drone detection and disruption technology specialist. Indeed DroneShield’s products have been used at the 2018 Olympic Games in South Korea, and by a number of defence organisations such as The British Army and the US.Department of Defense.

BT said it would offer a complete end-to-end system of drone detection products and services that will provide a tailored solution for each customer’s security needs. “The service will be a fully managed BT solution offering everything from planning and design, installation and commissioning, as well as on-going operational support and maintenance once live,” said the firm.

“Unwanted drone activity can have a dramatic effect on an organisation’s ability to function effectively and poses a real risk to safety,” explained Simon Wingrove, director of strategy and incubation at BT. “We believe that this partnership between BT and DroneShield will provide our customers with a best-in-class, integrated and secure drone detection solution.

“The recent disruptions at Gatwick and Heathrow airports have underscored the importance of counter drone capabilities for the UK’s critical infrastructure, as well as the fact that a range of corporate and public sector operators including security and law enforcement agencies, prisons, venues and events, data centres, VIPs, and many others, are at risk from rogue drone use,” said Oleg Vornik, DroneShield’s CEO.

Drone clampdown

In June the European Union released a new set of rules that have been “published to ensure drone operations across Europe are safe and secure.”

The new rules came after various countries including the UK, began tightening local laws after a number of serious incidents surrounding the unmanned aircraft.

And it is not just Europe that is experiencing problems with drones. In December 2015, Japanese police got their very own drone takedown squad after a drone landed on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office earlier that year.

That drone was found to be carrying a small amount of radioactive material, and although no one was hurt, a man was later arrested over the matter.

The Japanese police drone squad were subsequently equipped with a specialised drone that can intercept nuisance drones using a net to disable the target drone.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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