Invisible force fields may still be science fiction, but one start-up company has designed a drone shield that seems highly futuristic. ApolloShield is a plug-and-done system that automatically hacks into unwanted drones and sends them back to their pilot — while still letting that pizza delivery drone get to the front door.
Designed by AirFence, Inc., the system detects drones and then sends them back where they came from — keeping restricted areas protected without the extremes of taking a drone down via shotgun or laser. Unlike other systems, ApolloShield can detect different types of drones, allowing the user to decide what drones are OK and which ones are not.
“The unique thing about ApolloShield is that it is plug and play and intercepts drones in a safe way — no crashing and no radio jamming,” co-founder and CEO Nimo Shkedy said. “It can also differentiate between good and bad drones — this is something that no other system can do.”
While ApolloShield does the complex task of hacking into unwanted drones, the system is actually designed to be simple for the user. The CyberBox, a small unit with an antenna, plugs into both a power outlet and an internet connection, to provide access to the device’s command center. On auto mode, the system will then detect the drone’s radio signal and (re)program it to fly back to its pilot.
ApolloShield can also be set on a manual mode, where the system sends an alert to a computer or smartphone when a drone is detected, and the user can then decide whether or not to intercept the device.
The unit can be programmed to deter all drones or only select drones, which means it can be used by companies that want to use their own drones in the same location. The system is designed for business use as well as public safety, keeping drones away from everything from stadiums and events to law enforcement facilities and corporate headquarters.
ApolloShield is also a tool for celebrities to keep paparazzi drones out of their backyards — which is where the idea actually came from initially. Co-founders Shkedy and Gilad Beeri were inspired to develop the system after Israeli model Bar Rafaeli had her wedding declared a no-fly zone, only to have paparazzi drones still film the party.
While the system is designed to protect areas from drones, it’s also not a bad deal for drone operators — at least compared to having the device shot down or otherwise made to disappear. The system does pick up on the drone operator’s coordinates, however, for deploying a security team when necessary.