CUAS at the Winter Olympics: DJI’s No Fly Zone and Drones Made to Catch Drones

BY Zacc Dukowitz
7 February 2018

The 2018 Winter Olympics are underway in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and anti-drone security is a major concern.

With about one million spectators, athletes, and guests expected, as well as 26 heads of state from 21 countries, safety is top of mind for South Korean authorities. And drones are one of the newest possible threats, when it comes to reviewing potential safety concerns.

dji-olympics-drones
Image source

But worries about a drone carrying a bomb or some other hazardous payload isn’t the only reason drones are a focus in South Korea.

Given how many drones there are in the hands of consumers these days, preventing collisions or crashes that could lead to drones falling on people is another motivator in keeping the skies clear of rogue drones.

DJI, which owns about 70% of the global market for consumer drones, has implemented a no-fly zone around the sports arenas where Winter Olympic games are taking place, including around locations in Pyeongchang, Gangneung, and Jeongseon.

 Safety is DJI’s top priority and we’ve always taken proactive steps to educate our customers to operate within the law and where appropriate, implement temporary no-fly zones during major events.

– DJI

This isn’t without precedent. DJI has previously implemented temporary restrictions around the Euro 2016 soccer tournament in France, both major party conventions ahead of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and the G7 Summit in Japan.

Drones Catching Drones

While DJI has taken steps to help prevent rogue drones at the Olympics on its own initiative, the South Korean government, in partnership with authorities from the Winter Olympics, has also taken measures to prevent unauthorized drones from flying over the games. In fact, a whopping 60,000 people a day will be working to combat terrorism and ensure safety during the games.

Although some rogue drones could be attributed to those who simply want to fly over a big event to capture their own aerial footage, the possibility for safety concerns is also quite real, and this is where drones made for catching drones—or Counter UAS (CUAS)—comes in.

The drones being used for security right now in Pyeongchang are outfitted so that they can drop a net over a rogue drone to capture it, and and force it to the ground.

cuas-olympics

Photo provided by the Pyeongchang Olympics Anti-Terrorism and Safety Headquarters

If a drone approaches a restricted area, drone detection radar developed by the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST) will be deployed.

If a suspicious drone is picked up by radar, drone radio signal-jamming guns like those created by Dedrone will be used to bring it down.

But that’s not all. If the rogue drone can’t be stopped with an anti-drone gun or another drone equipped with a net, South Korean special forces have been trained specifically to shoot drones out of the sky, and will be deployed via helicopter to shoot the drone down.

In addition to these tactics, another futuristic tool South Korea will be using is a tactical airplane equipped with facial recognition capabilities, which will scan the crowd and detect individuals who might pose a potential terrorist threat.

https://youtu.be/-vknRo7aLhc

Check out this demonstration of a drone catching another drone made by Tokyo police in 2015

The Future of CUAS

Given the incredibly high stakes, we can assume the technology and approaches being used at the Winter Olympics to protect people from rogue drones is top of the line.

We’ve written before about the different options on the market for bringing down a rogue drone—from shotgun shells that deploy nets, to trained eagles, to net guns—but it looks like many of these options have been passed up in South Korea for more sure things (i.e., drones outfitted with nets, radar, and, when all else fails, shooting the problematic UAS out of the sky).

The South Koreans have done some impressive preparation to protect those attending the games. But we have to say, they may have been able to save a lot of money by simply training their officers to throw a spear . . . check out what we mean in the video below:

https://youtu.be/uhbuEUoxntQ

Of course, we’re kidding.

As drones continue to populate our sky in ever increasing numbers, measures like the ones currently being taken at the Winter Olympics are sure to be more and more common place for any large event. Dedrone was in the news recently for helping with anti-drone security at the World Economic Forum in Davos, and of course there are many more examples of CUAS being used at big events in recent news.

We’re sure to see more development on the CUAS front in the next few years—it could even be the case that the go-to anti-drone technology being used five years from now has yet to be invented. But for now, using a drone to drop a net on another drone will work just fine.

Zacc Dukowitz

Director of Marketing

Zacc Dukowitz is the Director of Marketing for UAV Coach. A writer with professional experience in education technology and digital marketing, Zacc is passionate about reporting on the drone industry at a time when UAVs can help us live better lives. Zacc also holds the rank of nidan in Aikido, a Japanese martial art, and is a widely published fiction writer. Zacc has an MFA from the University of Florida and a BA from St. John's College. Follow @zaccdukowitz or check out zaccdukowitz.com to read his work.

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