The development of drone technology over the last decade has resulted in drones being used in a wide range of new ways, as well as in the development of new techniques for mitigating their use for illegal activities.
Drones are now able to fly for longer thanks to breakthroughs in the development of their components such as batteries that are lighter than ever and blades that are wider yet also do not increase the weight of the unmanned aerial vehicle.
This is best exemplified by a drone developed by Richard Gill, founder and CEO of Drone Defence, who developed a drone which was able to fly across the channel. He has also developed a system called SkyFence, which is able to detect drone activity and jam or disrupt the signal between the controller and a UAV.
Drones have become a major problem for prisons because they are used to fly phones, drugs and other items that are forbidden over walls to prisoners.
Consequently, numerous companies and other organisations have been working on techniques and systems to detect and disrupt drones used for such illegal activities as the delivery of contraband can only mean prison inmates are able to continue their operations beyond the cell walls, ie dealing drugs and other goods within the prison.
Following the disruption at Gatwick in late 2018, drone countermeasure technologies have reached high demand – the global anti-UAV market is expected to reach the value of $1.85 billion by 2024 – and Richard Gill is considered by many to be a market leader in the development of electronic countermeasures.
His system Sky Fence is already deployed at Guernsey prison and was recently praised by Prisons Minister Rory Stewart in the House of Commons. His company Drone Defence has since won government funding and the question of how such systems can be employed throughout the United Kingdom is being examined.
Another market leader in the mitigation of illegal use of drones is Operation Solutions. Their system works by detecting the location of the person who is controlling the drone within a few milliseconds of the connection being activated.
This removal of anonymity thanks to geo-location means the person who is threatening the safety of others can be dealt with appropriately.
An option available to the military is Rafael, which has been developed by the Israeli military. This system works by geo-locating the drone in the air via the analysis of its radio wave frequency and then destroying the UAV with a laser that is mounted on an all-terrain vehicle.
The bottom line
As drone technology develops, so will techniques for their mitigation as ensuing problems will increase. The main battle is between the development of technology and the development of mitigation technologies.