FAA to test anti-drone tech for pinpointing illegal operators near airports

Drone Plane
Whether it’s a bozo hobbyist or someone more sinister, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) seems resigned to the fact that there’s always going to be a few quadcopter pilots willing to put lives in danger by flying their remotely controlled machines close to busy airports.

With reports of such incidents on the rise, and sales of the device set to soar this holiday season, the FAA is determined to find an effective way of improving sky safety around airports.

Its latest effort, reported this week by Phys.org, involves a deal with Virginia-based tech firm CACI International that’ll enable the pair to test out a possible solution.

CACI’s technology acts on a drone’s radio waves to pinpoint both the machine and its operator within a large specified area. According to CACI, its system “provides a proven way to passively detect, identify, and track” both an unmanned flying machine and its operator, giving airport security the opportunity to act swiftly to end the incursion and deal appropriately with the drone’s owner. The schedule for testing and possible implementation of CACI’s technology hasn’t been disclosed.

FAA deputy administrator Michael Whitaker told the the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Wednesday that there are now around 100 reports a month of drones flying perilously close to planes and airports, up from just a few sightings each month in 2014.

Fearful that a direct hit with even a small drone could cause catastrophic damage to an aircraft’s engine or cockpit windshield, and mindful that quadcopters and similar remotely controlled flying machines are continuing to grow in popularity, the FAA knows that rules alone are not enough to prevent the growing problem of drone flights close to airports.

As things stand, drone operators have to stay at least five miles from an airport and fly their copter at an altitude of no higher than 400 feet, while keeping it in sight at all times.

CACI’s technology could also come in useful during other critical situations, such as wildfire emergencies – authorities in California recently slammed drone operators for occupying airspace and disrupting first responders’ efforts during devastating fires in the state.

Emerging Tech

NYPD has added a bunch of quadcopters to its crime-fighting kit

The New York Police Department is to start using quadcopters in its crime-fighting work. Trained cops will have access to various models for use in particular situations that include search-and-rescue, and hostage situations.
Emerging Tech

How to register your drone with the FAA

Before you take to the skies with your new drone, you need to make sure it has been properly registered with the U.S. government. Check our guide for registration requirements and easy, step-by-step instructions on how to complete your…
Emerging Tech

This exotic new material somehow gets thicker when stretched

Scientists at the U.K.’s University of Leeds have discovered a synthetic material which actually gets thicker the more it’s stretched. Here are some of the things it could be used for.
Emerging Tech

Early-detection system for wildfires could save many states from big burns

When it comes to dealing with the growing problem of raging wildfires, a new wireless smart sensor system could help spot burgeoning blazes before they rage out of control. Here's how it works.

Light up the night! Here are the five best headlamps money can buy

Headlamps make all the difference when camping or walking the dog at night, especially when you're in need of both hands. From Black Diamond and Petzl to Coast here are some of the best headlamps on the market.
Emerging Tech

Elon Musk to unveil tunnel elevators and autonomous pods on December 18

We'll soon learn if Elon Musk's high-speed tunnel plan is a serious effort at ending traffic jams or little more than a fancy theme park ride. A big unveiling event is coming on December 18, a week later than originally planned.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!