Anti-Drone Guns Expand in Range, and Why This Might Not Be Such a Bad Thing After All
BY Alan Perlman30 December 2016
It’s a story as old as time. Where you have drones, you have people who don’t like drones.
Well, it looks like the people who are in the Don’t Like camp may be getting a leg up.
Until quite recently anti-drone jamming “guns” or “death rays” could only work when the gun user was relatively close to the drone in question.
This could be a scary prospect if, for instance, you’re trying to jam a drone that you think may have explosives on board. On the other hand, it was nice for responsible drone owners to know that, for those who might want to mess with their operations, they only had a small physical window in which they could do so.
The DroneGun works at up to 1.2 miles away, a huge increase in range from previous iterations of these kinds of devices. Like other, similar devices, the DroneGun doesn’t simply make a drone crash, but forces the sUAS to land or return to its starting point.
Check out the video below to see how DroneShield is pitching its gun, or scroll down to get our analysis on this new gizmo, and what we think about whether people should be angry, optimistic, or somewhere in between.
Playing Devil’s Advocate
As you can probably guess from the title of this section, when it comes to how we feel about the DroneGun, we choose to land in the “somewhere in between” camp. That is, between anger and optimism.
Now, hear us out.
The first thing to say is that this entire conversation is strictly academic for drone operations in the United States because the FCC has not yet approved any kind of jamming devices.
But—and here is where we’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment—hypothetically, creating safe, regulated air spaces is something all of us in the drone community at large should, and generally do, want to have. And creating safe airspaces will require reasonable legislation, and taking reasonable steps for enforcement of that legislation.
Can we agree on this concept? Sure we can. Where things start to unravel is when we start talking about enforcement, and what it looks like to actually implement regulations.
Certainly we are not OK with the idea of a lone citizen being able to control a highly valuable piece of equipment—a piece of equipment which may well be crucial for someone’s livelihood—just because he spent some money on a DroneGun.
But think airports, for starters.
Right now, due to the lack of an FCC-approval, there is very little that can be done to keep airports safe from rogue drones, and there is some real concern that a drone could accidentally (or maybe even on purpose!) bring down a plane as it’s taking off or landing.
The FBI has already been testing drone detection technology in partnership with the FAA, toward the goal of keeping airports safe from these kinds of accidents. In fact, although it’s still working on a complete strategy, the FAA is required to continue performing evaluations like these as part of the FY 2016 Appropriations law.
Other scenarios in which a DroneGun or similar device might be useful are when a drone is thought to contain explosives or otherwise is being used, or going to be used, to harm people.
With the proliferation of drones, it is certainly not unthinkable that they could be used for domestic terrorism or in other dangerous ways, and the thought of having a tool to prevent such attacks is a comfort.
On the other hand, the power to take down a drone should not be taken lightly.
As legislators consider allowing the use of anti-drone tools like the DroneGun, they should consider all of the implications for the vast majority of drone owners who are responsible and law-abiding— both professional and hobbyist users alike—and endeavor to do the right thing to create safe airspaces for everyone.
Some Other Great, and Kind of Wacky, Anti-Drone Ideas
Have you heard of the net bazooka? This bad boy shoots a net into the sky (you heard that right—a huge net shot out of a bazooka!) so quickly and powerfully that it can take down a drone.
The idea of catching anything with a net seems pretty early-20th century to us, but we’ll admit that we were impressed with the demonstration in the video below.
Also, eagles have been trained to take down drones.
This approach seems even older, like maybe 19th century or earlier, but again, the demonstration in the video below is compelling.
The only issue here is with size, since hawks only get so big. That being said, at a typical wingspan of 6-7 feet, and a typical weight of 6-12 pounds, a Bald Eagle gets plenty big enough to take down many of the drones on the market.
Interested in becoming FAA certified to fly your drone commercially? Check out our free step-by-step guide to FAA Part 107 for U.S. Commercial Drone Pilots.