The proliferation of hobby and commercial sUAS represents a significant threat to commercial aviation and domestic critical infrastructure. DHS, FAA and DOD are the principal drivers behind the recent Draconian restrictions placed on commercial and hobby sUAS flight.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) now requires every drone, R/C (radio controlled) aircraft operator to register before flying drones, aircraft (sUAS) weighing over .55lbs (just over 2 sticks of butter) and must have a compliant label for identification and carry Certificate of Registration (Flight ID). Anyone who owns a small unmanned aircraft (sUAS), Drone, RC Model Aircraft of a certain weight must register with the Federal Aviation Administration’s Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) registry before they fly outdoors. People who previously operated their UAS must also register before their next flight. You will be subject to civil and criminal penalties if you meet the criteria to register and do not register, including fines of up to $250,000.
In addition to the obvious concerns over aviation safety, sUAS pose a very real terrorism threat as they can be used to deliver biological agents, explosives and other devices. Individuals can be readily targeted using a small unmanned aerial vehicle. Fortunately, most of the sUAS incidents to date have been nothing more than vulgar displays of their owner’s stupidity. However, the potential for a much more insidious application is there and industry is responding with some very interesting technology.
Batelle, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, has introduced the Drone Defender to help security and law enforcement personnel deal with those pesky sUAS intrusions. The Drone Defender selectively attacks two sUAS systems, the radio control channel and the GPS signal. The active electronic elements are mounted on an M4 / AR15 platform, the longer antenna is the r.f jammer while the shorter lower antenna steps on the GPS signal. The system projects a 30 degree r.f. beam, with a 400 yard range, that attacks the sUAS radio control channel. The r.f. signal transmitted by the Drone Defender steps on the radio control frequency essentially decreasing the drone’s receiver signal-to-noise ration such that the sUAS receiver can no longer discern its control signal. At that point, depending on how the drone is programmed, one of three things will happen. The drone will return home, slowly return to the ground or hover. If the GPS signal is attacked, the drone will lose its GPS reference and could be forced to the ground for confiscation and / or forensic analysis.
There are presently 10 Drone Defenders in use with DHS and DOD but the company hopes those numbers will increase as the technology is proven and accepted.
Battelle is the world’s largest nonprofit research and development organization, with over 22,000 employees at more than 60 locations globally. A 501(c)(3) charitable trust, Battelle was founded on industrialist Gordon Battelle’s vision that business and scientific interests can go hand-in-hand as forces for positive change