With drone ownership continuing to rise, it’s little wonder you get the occasional oaf flying their bird in places they shouldn’t. Think airports, sports stadiums, government facilities, and the like.
Rogue flights like these have spawned a whole new industry that’s growing alongside the consumer drone market. It involves technology that helps the authorities to quickly and safely take down quadcopters and other remotely controlled flying machines in locations that are off-limits.
Australian firm DroneShield first came to our attention in 2016 with the fearsome-looking DroneGun, an almighty shoulder-mounted contraption that jams the signal between the rogue drone and its operator, bringing the copter slowly back to terra firma.
This week the team unveiled a more compact version called the DroneGun Tactical (below).
At 56 inches in length and with a less bulky body, the Tactical is much more portable than the earlier design (below). The operator only needs to point the device at a drone and pull the trigger. This should jam the drone’s signal, causing the machine to automatically return to its owner, allowing the authorities to identify and question the pilot. If it’s important to bring down the drone more quickly, the jammer can interfere with the drone’s GPS system, forcing it to pretty much land on the spot.
DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik told Digital Trends the Tactical was developed “following close collaboration and feedback from a number of NATO militaries,” adding, “We consider it the best in class globally, with stronger power, lighter weight and top-of-the-line ergonomics.”
One compromise that has been made with the more compact design is the Tactical’s 0.62-mile (1 km) range, half that of the bulkier DroneGun, which is still available. DroneShield’s latest anti-drone device weighs 15 pounds (6.8 kg) — a little more than the DroneGun — and according to its maker requires no technical training to use. The new model can also disrupt a wider range of frequencies, giving it a greater chance of downing that rogue drone whatever the make or model.
“A significant challenge in the creation of the unit was to remove the backpack and miniaturize the components into a form factor to fit on a rifle, which our engineering team has been successful at,” Vornik said.
The Tactical is available now “for tens of thousands of dollars per unit,” and can be bought in the U.S. by organizations cleared by the government.
If it’s as effective as it claims to be, the DroneGun Tactical could certainly be useful in particular scenarios such as crowded events, while other solutions that put up a “drone shield” that can also detect and down nearby drones, such as DroneShield’s Sentry platform or this one from British firms Drone Defence and Eclipse Digital Solutions, would be more practical for places like prisons.
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