The Attack of the Drones
If we listened to the news it would appear that we should be batting away drones in much the same way an unwitting tourist would against midges in the Highlands of Scotland in Spring.
Whether you have encountered the close proximity of an unmanned aerial vehicle or not, authorities are so concerned about them that industries are emerging to tackle the issue in some very interesting ways.
In north America, the online tech website The Verge, reports that The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) - the U.S. equivalent of The Civil Aviation Authority - fined drone operator SkyPan International nearly $2M for unauthorised flights over New York City and Chicago. The authority is concerned not only for the safety of the general public - with the possibility inter-drone collisions - but also in the rise of pilots spotting the devices, sometimes up to 10,000 feet.
With FAA deputy administrator Michael Whitaker telling the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week that ‘One of the biggest challenges we're having is locating the operator’, the FAA recently signed a deal to test technology that will detect, identify and track drone users.
Here in the UK three companies are taking a more proactive stance by developing technology to covertly jam the signal between drone and user making it unresponsive. The BBC reports that Paul Taylor from Enterprise Control Systems that co-developed the technology says its based on “radio signals…we transmit into those frequencies in the direction of the UAV using a directional antenna. There's quite a lot of radio power on to the UAV - so much so that it can only hear our Auds signal”. The operator can choose to jam the signal for a short time convincing its owner there is a problem and return it; or for longer periods, should the drone be in a very sensitive area, until the drone battery dies and it crashes.
With The Rise of the Drones (which sounds like a prequel film title - hence the caps), it guarantees this issue will never be too far away from our news screens. It also ensures that while one technology and market develops another one does to tackle it.
Picture courtesy of Commons Wikipedia