(Source: IEEE Spectrum)
As drones get cheaper to buy and easier to use, they’re also going to get more and more annoying. Back when they were expensive and complicated and fragile and having one was a big deal, people would be careful with them, and flying them would be enough of an event that you wouldn’t be thinking about all the ways in which it’s possible to use drones to do things that are (at best) obnoxious or (slightly worse) illegal or (way worse) recklessly dangerous.
For most people on the ground, there’s not a lot that we can do about an unwanted drone buzzing around overhead, especially if it’s out of shotgun range and you don’t have a military-grade laser handy. The solution to this is obvious and inevitable: intercept drones that seek out and bring down other drones.
A group of California drone developers has recently announced they’re creating a drone called Rapere that is optimized for one single purpose: finding nearby drones and causing them to crash. When you see a drone that you want, uh, taken care of, simply press the “GO” button on the Rapere. It’ll launch itself, visually locate any other drone within range, and then fly up and hover above that drone while dangling a bit of wire beneath itself. The wire gets all tangled up on the other drone’s rotors, causing it to crash (maybe). Rapere then returns to base, and you can smugly salvage a nice GoPro or whatever from the pile of wreckage.
Right off the bat, we should point out that Rapere doesn’t exist yet, so the scenario described above is what its creators hope to accomplish. What they’ve shown so far is a website with vague details and some crude graphics. And while they say their drone works “in the lab,” they acknowledged that it still has a “long way to go before it goes commercial.” We asked them for some proof-of-concept videos but haven’t heard back.