World's first laser-controlled drone easily evades countermeasures
Counter-drone systems typically attack a UAV's radio control or GPS systems, disabling pilot control as well as pre-programmed missions. But British defense tech company QinetiQ has now demonstrated a laser-controlled drone these systems can't stop.
The demo, claimed as a world-first, showcased the company's new two-way Free Space Optical Communications (FSOC) system, designed to complement or replace radio control for military missions in areas where the enemy might have RF-blocking or detection gear.
The system appears to require line of sight for its "very high-bandwidth" ground station to drone link – that'll restrict its applicability. But the equipment on the ground looks pretty compact, and on top of skipping happily through RF jammers, the system also makes it virtually impossible to intercept or even detect the data stream.
One does wonder how well it'll fare through smoke, dust or other air quality issues – and indeed these drones will still be easily stopped by nets, shotgun rounds or throwing fridges at them. But QinetiQ sees the FSOC system as a way to "negate the considerable investment that adversaries may have made in denying the RF spectrum."
QinetiQ showed off the laser system's capabilities as part of the UK Ministry of Defence's DSTL Air Command and Control, Intelligence Surveillance & Reconnaissance and Interoperability project.
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