Drone-free: 7 ways to fortify your own personal airspace
Drones! We're technological optimists here at New Atlas, and that goes for small-scale unpersoned aerial vehicles. (Military drones are a different story, clearly. This list doesn't go there.) But clearly there's something about their potential for snoopery that can disgruntle the house-proud. Judging by the technology on this list, someone somewhere thinks there's an anti-drone buck to be had. Warning: messing with other people's property may very well be illegal wherever it is you live. None of what follows comes as a recommendation.
7. With a beam gun
Looking like the offspring of a TV aerial and, I dunno, some sort of bullety gun thing, Battelle's DroneDefender fires radio waves in a 30-degree cone. These are designed to interfere with the incoming control and GPS signals the drone relies on to get where it's going. Despite weighing in under 10 lb (4.5 kg), Battelle reckons this'll knock a drone out of the sky from 400 m (1,300 ft). Except judging by the video demo you don't so much knock it out of the sky as compel it to land.
6. With a $150 "cyber rifle"
If you want serious drone-hunting cred, you have to get in your shed and MacGyver your own anti-drone tech. Who could be creddier, then, than the Army Cyber Institute's Captain Brent Chapman, who built his own anti-drone rifle with about US$150 worth o' parts, including a Raspberry Pi computer. An improvised cheapy this may be, but judging by this US Department of Defense video, the device is very effective at close range — enough to warrant a demo for the US Secretary of Defense.
5. With an acoustic drone shield, obviously
Though DroneShield can't actually fell drones, as a detection aid it's billed as a first line of drone defense — even against unmanned aircraft undetectable by radar. That's because drone shield listens to its environment, comparing detected sounds with a database of known drone signatures. DroneShield's makers say false-positives are kept to a minimum. That's welcome news, as, cyber rifle or no, who wants to run headlong into a swarm of bees?
4. With a shoulder-mounted net-cannon
As technologically-impressive radio- and sound-based anti-drone technologies are, there's something rather appealing about catching a quadcopter in a net, like some Information Age lepidopterist. Enter SkyWall100 — a shoulder-mounted cannon that fires a bullet-shaped projectile which itself releases a net when it comes close to the drone. A parachute then returns the drone safely to land for whatever nefarious revenge you deem necessary. Other payloads are available.
3. With malware
Alright, Jeff Goldblum! If you want to get properly War of the Worlds about it you can always infect a drone with malware to take it over later. At least, that's the idea behind "research project" Maldrone, which would let you silently take over a drone's sensors, drivers or even controls. Silently eavesdrop on the device's video feed or hijack the fecker outright — it's entirely up to you. Of course, you have to find a way to get the malware on to the thing in the first place. Which rather raises the question: what would a phishing scam designed to fool a machine even look like, anyway?
2. With a drone of your own
If the idea of a surface-to-air net is just a little mundane for your tastes, how about snaring a drone air-to-air instead? Straight outta Michigan Tech (their poetic justice department, presumably) comes a prototype hexacopter that catches smaller drones from range of up to 40 ft (12 m). I say smaller drones because the net remains attached so you can transport the prize back to base. Creator Mo Rastgaar calls the idea "robotic falconry" — and who can blame him?
1. With a shotgun
Of all the ideas on this list, this is surely the most-ill advised of all. Yet you can't fault it for raw, unrefined efficacy. William H. Merideth of Hillview, Louisville, Kentucky claims that he waited for the drone to be over his property before discharging his shotgun at it. Despite accusations that the drone was snooping on numerous properties, its owners were not investigated. Meanwhile, Merideth was charged with criminal mischief and wanton endangerment, both in the first degree. "Everyone I've spoke to, including police, have said they would have done the same thing," he told a local radio station.