Civilian drone activity has increased exponentially as drones become more easily accessible and affordable. With more drones in the sky every day, there have been some creative and sometimes dangerous attempts to disable drones. The reasons for disabling a drone can vary from boredom and curiosity to privacy and safety concerns. To be clear, the Center for Technology Innovation does not condone or promote the act of harming drones.
Shooting a drone out of the sky may be effective, but it’s also extremely dangerous. The consequences for shooting down a drone vary by state, but perpetrators could face reckless endangerment charges or be prosecuted under laws relating to the discharge of firearms. Additionally, the offender could be liable for civil damages paid to the destroyed drone’s owner.
Nets are a much safer alternative to capturing drones than shooting them with guns. Tokyo police are working to implement net-carrying drones that can intercept suspicious smaller drones. The Human-Interactive Robotics Lab at Michigan Tech is working a drone catcher system for removing intruding drones by developing a drone-mounted net cannon that can capture another drone in flight from a distance of up to 40 feet. Lastly, there’s anti-drone technology that can be assembled from hardware store items. The drone net gun is a plastic slingshot that releases a net from the user on the ground to capture a drone in-flight
3. Radio waves
Battelle’s DroneDefender is a device that emits an electromagnetic field meant to disrupt the most popular GPS and ISM radio frequencies, which keep drones in the air. The DroneDefender can then take control and guide the drone safely down to the ground. It is not yet available for consumer use and is awaiting authorization from the Federal Communications Commission.
As drones are functionally flying computers, it’s been proven possible to hack into their software by using Wi-Fi to connect to an unsecured network port on the device. Conversely, at the DEFCON hacker conference in Las Vegas, David Jordan of Aerial Assault demonstrated a drone that can break into computer networks by scanning for unsecured networks, recording their locations using GPS, and relaying the information to the pilot.
Darrell M. West
Senior Fellow - Center for Technology Innovation
Douglas Dillon Chair in Governmental Studies
The Dutch National Police are creatively working with Guard From Above, a raptor training company, to determine whether eagles could be used as anti-drone weapon systems. For those worried about the potential dangers to the birds, Guard From Above responded, “In nature, birds of prey often overpower large and dangerous prey. Their talons have scales, which protect them, naturally, from their victims’ bites. Of course, we are continuously investigating any extra possible protective measures we can take in order to protect our birds. The Dutch National Police has asked the Dutch Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) to research the possible impact on the birds’ claws. The results are not yet known. We are working closely with the Dutch National Police on the development of our services.”
6. Jet Skis
Jet Skis don’t seem to be the most practical way of disabling drones, but one jet skier at the 2016 Yamaha New Zealand Festival of Freeride 4 showed how effectively it could be done.