Categories: Innovation

US Government ‘Working On Anti-Drone Systems’

The US Government is working on technologies for protecting the public and sensitive areas from rogue drones, according to a report.

Government agencies are working with local police forces in the US on systems that can take control of drones and send them back to their operators, and have conducted at least one field test, Reuters reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter.

The reported project comes when unauthorised drone flights are soaring, and have led to security scares at the White House, airports and elsewhere.

In the field test, police in New York City used a microwave-based system to take control of a commercially available drone seen flying in a crowded Times Square on New Years’ Eve and send it back to its operator, Reuters said, citing a source involved in the test. The previously unreported test ran into difficulty because of interference from nearby media broadcasts, according to the report.

The nationwide anti-drone development programme involves the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Aviation Administration and the US Defence Department, Reuters said.

The object of the research is to enable police to take control of drones that might appear at crowded events such as the Super Bowl, in order to steer them away from the public or guide them back to their operators, so that those operators can be identified, according to Reuters’ sources.

Transmission override

“We have to come up with something that’s kind of basic technology so that if something happens, the drone or device will just go right back to the operators,” one source said.

The technology would involve overriding the transmissions from the drone’s original controller, using known transmission codes, Reuters said.

In January, a quadcopter drone landed on the White House lawn after its owner lost control of it in downtown Washington, D.C. Federal officials decided against bringing criminal charges against the operator.

In several cases, drones have been seen flying dangerously close to airports. The FAA said last week that US pilots have reported more than 650 drone sightings this year, as of 9 August, more than double last year’s total.

Firefighter interference

Earlier this summer, drones prevented firefighters from planned drops of water and fire retardant on California wildfires.

US authorities identified operatirs in only one in 10 unauthorised drone sightings last year, with only 2 percent of the cases leading to law enforcement actions, according to Reuters.

The Consumer Electronics Association expects more than 1 million drones to be sold in the US this year, more than double last year’s sales total.

Amazon plans to carry out deliveries via drone and has begun testing its drone technology. DHL is also testing drone deliveries.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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