Battelle’s DroneDefender anti-drone beam gun grounds UAVs

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The Battelle DroneDefender is a portable anti-UAV beam weapon(Credit: Battlle)

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There's recently been a run of new anti-drone systems introduced to deal with potential threats from UAVs, but these have been on the large and expensive side. To provide an affordable alternatives to plug the gap between shotguns and truck-mounted systems, national security research and development firm Battelle is introducing DroneDefender. Billed as the first portable, accurate, rapid-to-use UAV counter-weapon, it's a rifle-like raygun device that uses a radio beam to jam drone control systems and stop them in midair.

Most UAVs in service today are relatively harmless, but their growing numbers increases the risk that they will be used maliciously or carelessly. Recent systems for dealing with rogue drones have taken one of two approaches. One type destroys UAVs by shooting them down with special anti-aircraft guns, which has the obvious limitation that such weapons can't be used in many areas for legal or safety reasons. The other type uses large-scale jamming systems that fire radio beams to interfere with the drone's controls, but many of these, like the anti-aircraft guns, are very large, expensive, and not at all suitable for dealing with minor problems at small installations or following VIPs and other targets on the move.

Battelle's DroneDefender is designed as a point-and-shoot system that looks like an elaborate shoulder raygun with two antennae, a software-defined radio, and jamming circuitry. It works by firing a radio beam in a 30° cone that jams the control and GPS navigation frequencies to disable drones at distances of up to 400 m (1,300 ft). Battlle says that the system not only freezes the UAV, but also stops all outside control commands, including radio detonation signals.

The DroneDefender places a heavy emphasis on speed and portability. It weighs under 10 lb (4.5 kg), can cold-start in under a tenth of a second, and operates continuously for up to five hours with optional battery packs. It can be carried or fixed on a Picatinny rail mount and comes in hardened versions for forward deployment in hazardous areas.

Battelle says that the DroneDefender requires no special training to use, has already been tested against a DJI Phantom drone target, and has shown a consistent response in field conditions.

Because, US FAA regulations prohibited an actual demonstration, the video below shows a simulation of the DroneDefender in use.

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