Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV)—more commonly known as drones, have occupied not just the clear skies, but also the global market scene. Its impressive demand has since started disrupting different industries including photography, agriculture, navigation, and defense. But there are also threats caused by drones which has created the emergence of counter drone technology.
The innovative device is making a name for itself especially with commercial usage. According to the Global Industry Analytics, Inc.—a trustworthy publisher of market research—the global market for commercial drones is estimated to jump to $1.8 billion by 2020.
Researchers and engineers could come up with a thousand ways to evolve a drone. It is, after all, the device of the future. However, it is safe to say that despite the great promise drones are showing, UAVs are still in the nascent stage as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently completing the rules and regulations of flying drones.
The utilization of drones creates concern for many different organizations and businesses. And because the establishment of laws is ongoing, the danger of drones being used for illegal purposes is reason for alarm.
The following are some of the more common illegal drone activities that affect the continuous growth of the flying device:
- Flying drones near airports
- Flying drones beyond the normal line of sight, which is 500 meters
- Drones used to invade privacy and commit crimes
According to Dr. Robert Griffin, the Deputy Undersecretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security, threats from the unmanned aerial vehicles come from people who use them not from the drone itself. He added, “UAVs are not a threat any more than a car, plane, or cell phone camera.”
Illegal use of drones has opened the window for counter drone technology. It allows the use of radio signal jammers, lasers, drone guns, attack birds, missiles, radio spoofers, net cannons, and anti-UAS shotgun shells to prevent malicious activities. Reports have suggested that the Pentagon, headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, has authorized a policy that lets military bases attack commercial or private drones if they think that the UAVs could become major threats.
The following industries are most likely to use counter drone technology:
- Private Security
- Defense Sector
- The United States Government
- Amusement Parks
- Sports Teams and Stadiums
- Chemical Manufacturing
These are just some of the sectors concerned about their safety from electronic welfare, conventional attacks, and unwanted UAV surveillance.
Laws Affecting the Continuous Rise of Counter Drone Technology
Just like the usual commercial drones, the industry of counter drone technology is facing predicaments when it comes to rules and regulations.
The following legal issues forbid counter drone technology, making people or industries accountable:
Communications Act of 1934 – This law has three sections that hurt the chances of counter drone technology to perform what it does best.
- 47 U.S.C. Section 301
- 47 U.S.C. Section 302(b)
- 47 U.S.C. Section 333
The sections that are mentioned above have one thing in common—operating, developing, and selling jammers must be authorized or licensed under an Act or it should be fully controlled by the U.S. Government.
FCC Regulations – Two sections of this rule affect counter drone technology. 47 C.F.R. Section 2.803 states that manufacturing, importing, and selling counter drone technology devices should be forbidden, especially in the United States. And in 47 C.F.R. Section 2.807, counter drone technology could only be sold to the U.S. Government.
The United States Criminal Code – This code has five sections:
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1362
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1367(a)
- 18 U.S.C. Section 32
- 18 U.S.C. Section 2511
- 18 U.S.C. Section 1030
The laws mentioned above ban the capabilities of any counter drone technology to interfere in the communication process of the U.S. Government. The United States Criminal Code prohibits counter drone technology to gain access to protected devices and it also forbids counter drone technology to damage aircraft facilities.
Drone Jamming Regulation in Air Navigation Facilities – 49 U.S.C. Section 46308 is a law that prevents people or organizations from interfering with the air navigation system of aircraft facilities in the United States. It means that jamming drones near airports could be dangerous to any aircraft.
State Laws – There are states in the U.S. that made the counter drone technology illegal. If someone violated one of the laws above, they could encounter a civil lawsuit.
The laws are indeed hurting the chances of counter drone technology to flourish but according to some experts, these rules will soon change. Oleg Vornik, the Chief Financial Officer of DroneShield, said, “This (regulation) is expected to change shortly as governments start to recognize that critical infrastructure facilities such as airports need to be able to defend themselves against drones.”
Startup Companies Venturing into the Counter Drone Industry
The rules on the usage of drones and neutralizing them are still in their early stages and can be modified. Changes in policies for counter drone technology gives hope for startup companies looking to push their luck in entering the rising industry.
- DroneShield – Located in Sydney, New South Wales, this company creates a pre-eminent drone detection solution that could guard individuals, infrastructures, and different organizations. DroneShield uses a radio frequency jammer called “DroneGun” that incapacitates the system of a drone. The company has now raised $29.7 million in just 5 rounds.
- SkySafe – SkySafe is a startup company that creates and deploys drone warnings and detection systems for profitable airports and infrastructures. Grant Jordan is the Co-Founder and CEO of the company located in San Diego, California. They use radio frequency signals in order to recognize and stop drones from flying inside military bases and airports. Headed by Andreessen Horowitz, SkySafe has already raised $11.5 million in funding.
- Search Systems – Search Systems is a technology-driven company that delivers innovative UAV-based safety and security solutions for the defense industry. The company comes up and provides cost-effective and practical solutions to protect and save lives. They were able to develop SparrowHawk. It is a drone equipped with a net in order to capture unwanted or illegal drones.
- SkyNet Drone Defense – The startup company is one of a kind as it develops shotgun shells. The shells could work with any 12-guage and it contains a net has the capability to capture and bring the any drone down.
- Guard From Above – Instead of using drones like any other counter drone company, Guard From Above utilizes animals. They train birds of prey in order to take down illegal drones in an area.
Commercial drones have been very beneficial for different industries. Counter drone technology was not introduced to end the reign of flying drones, but to bridge a gap that could potentially make a bold impact on people and organizations involved in the industry.