The DroneGun

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The DroneGun isn't meant for drone hobbyists or their vengeful neighbours.
The DroneGun isn’t meant for drone hobbyists or their vengeful neighbours.

Government agencies, airport operators and law enforcement agencies looking to ground drones can now put the flying devices in their crosshairs.

A company called DroneShield has introduced a 6kg, rifle-shaped jammer that it says can take down drones from a distance as far as 2km away.

The DroneGun isn’t meant for drone hobbyists or their vengeful neighbours. The company says it could thwart drones carrying explosives intended to carry out a civilian or military attack, or stop those that venture illegally into restricted airspace or onto prohibited property.

The gun’s effect is not exactly obvious. There’s no projectile fired or resulting explosion that would make for great action-movie footage.

Instead, the DroneGun jams the radio and/or GPS frequency that tells the drone where to go. The gun operator can then land the drone immediately or signal it to return home.

Drones have proven to be a pest, and at times a safety hazard, for agencies that operate tightly controlled environments.

Airports have grappled with them venturing too close to runways, prisons have intercepted them delivering contraband to inmates, and even the White House has had them crash-land on its grounds.

“We certainly feel that a jammer is a safer way to bring down a drone than shooting it,” Oleg Vornik, DroneShield’s chief financial officer, said in an interview.

Because commercial drones operate on publicly accessible radio frequencies, the DroneGun could be used to jam other consumer-grade electronics, such as Internet routers or remote-controlled toy cars.

Although the DroneGun officially debuted this week, consumers won’t be buying it anytime soon.

Federal Communications Commission regulations dictate that the gun can only be sold to federal agencies, according to the company’s website, not even state governments or local law enforcement.

“In terms of how this is sold, there is clearly a very controlled process,” Vornik said. “In most developed countries around the world, there is a very narrow bandwidth of customers we can sell to.”

That helps keep the jammer out of the hands of those who might use it against law enforcement, he said.

DroneShield, which also makes sensors to detect drones, markets its products primarily to airports, prisons, governments and large commercial venues. They are sold in 35 countries, Vornik said.

The company doesn’t disclose the exact price of the DroneGun, but Vornik said it costs “tens of thousands of dollars.”

The DroneGun is not the first effort to combat wayward drones. Others have sought to take them out using large nets, more powerful drones and even highly trained birds.

– The Washington Post


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