According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were over 1 million unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) registered as of 2018. Better known as drones, UAVs have strict areas where they may travel. But increasingly, whether intentionally or through ignorance, drones are finding their way into restricted areas. Because of this, many are seeking anti-drone technology to combat the problem. And Vorpal Ltd., an Israeli-based company, is providing effective solutions.
From airports to homeland security, drones have the potential to cause serious disruptions. While it may seem feasible that drones could be easily detected using standard radar techniques, that is not the case. In fact, anti-drone technology requires more complex insights and strategies. As this need grows and the threats become more serious, companies like Vorpal are striving to address these issues head-on.
Vorpal — A Unique Approach in Anti-Drone Technology
Vorpal was founded in 2009 as the prevalence of drones became increasingly evident. Interestingly, Vorpal’s expertise evolved out of military operations involving signal intelligence. Through advanced signal processing and analysis solutions, Vorpal developed an anti-drone technology based on radiofrequency geolocation strategies. Its VigilAir products are now recognized globally as a significant advancement in mitigating solutions.
Of course, Vorpal is not the only company involved in mitigating the undesirable effects of a rising drone population. Other players in the space include QinetiQ Group, Optix, and Chess Dynamics. However, different companies have pursued anti-drone technologies in different ways. Some have developed kinetic drone defenses, while others have focused on paralyzing drones through the use of jammer guns. However, it is notable that these approaches may be illegal in some instances and ineffective in others.
Vorpal’s strategy is unique. Its anti-drone technology identifies both the drone and drone operator through the use of its radiofrequency geolocation solutions. Once the identification is achieved, Vorpal’s system mimics the drone’s command and control operations. This detail allows a “soft” takeover of the drone, which can then be landed safely out of harm’s way. In this way, Vorpal avoids legal issues that support aircraft protection since the drone itself is not destroyed or damaged.
Challenges Facing Anti-Drone Technology Solutions
In recent months, several drone-related events have raised concern. One involved a collision between a drone and a Mexican aircraft. The other resulted in the delay and cancellation of several flights at Gatwick Airport in Britain. These events highlight the potential risks that drones pose to security protections. In addition to aviation structures, drones may be used to target critical infrastructures. Likewise, they may be used as a means of terrorism against groups of people or an individual. Vorpal has cited the importance and relevance of these threats frequently.
In this regard, anti-drone technologies face many difficulties when it comes to addressing these threats. First, drones are composed of plastics, carbon, and polymers—making them impossible to identify using traditional radar. Likewise, drones utilize different guidance systems, proving it to be challenging to design a single system that covers all drones. Some use radio links, while others may use Wi-Fi or autonomous GPS systems. Thus, multiple strategies are often required when implementing an effective anti-drone technology system.
The remaining challenges are policy-related in nature. While the Federal Communications Commission prohibits communication interference between drones and other aircraft, the FAA is different. Instead, the FAA tends to protect all types of aircraft, including drones. Therefore, some consider mitigation strategies that involve “taking out” a drone in prohibited airspace as illegal. Similarly, the use of broad or barrage jamming systems is naturally undesirable because of the adverse effects on normally operating aircraft. That is why Vorpal’s anti-drone technology is so appealing.
Vorpal — Partnering for Scalability and Societal Advancements
The anti-drone technology that Vorpal utilizes was developed through Israeli military research. Because of this fact, Israel limits the nations where this technology may be used or shared. In countries where sharing geolocation solutions are prohibited, Vorpal partners with other companies to bring forth anti-drone technology solutions. At the same time, Vorpal publishes several white papers advocating for positive change in the industry.
More recently, Vorpal has been exploring partnerships with AT&T as well as Microsoft’s Azure cloud solutions. Through the use of information technologies, Vorpal could implement low-latency responses to broader regions. Likewise, this case would facilitate greater computing scalability needed to regulate drone traffic more effectively. All these reflect the types of changes being pursued in order to keep pace with the rising security threats that drones pose.
Indeed, the bold moves that Vorpal and others are making in anti-drone technology solutions should be highly valued given today’s climate. Their inclusion in the Florida Israeli Business Accelerator (FIBA) program, is also helping to boost the companies fortunes.