For every bright spot in technological development there is a dark side. The drone industry is no exception. Incidents of drones as security risks have started to emerge: a drone crashes on to the White House lawn, another carrying radioactive sand lands on the roof of the Japanese prime minister’s office and last year the operators of several French nuclear plants sighted their facilities being buzzed by drones. And in Britain a drone was used to fly contraband into a prison.
The nightmare scenario of a fleet of drones buzzing a populated area and spreading a bio-chemical agent isn’t science fiction; many experts believe it’s just a matter of time before someone attempts such an act.
Against that backdrop the nascent anti-drone market has emerged. Intended to act as early warning devices or direct interdiction, several companies have sprung up offering various solutions. BRINK spoke recently with Brian Hearing, co-founder of DroneShield, a U.S.-based anti-drone technology company, about this burgeoning new technology market and the risks it addresses.
BRINK: If drones have not been more than an annoyance at this point, what’s really driving this burgeoning field of anti-drone technology?
Hearing: In some cases, an annoyance might not be a sufficient description. For example, people are sneaking in cell phones, drugs, equipment and weapons into prisons. There are drones that have the potential to fly inside aircraft and kill hundreds of people on board.
In the security industry, you don’t prepare for what has already happened, you prepare for what could happen. Certainly those drone cases point to trends or the possibility of people using drones intentionally for misuse, which means that things can get much worse. For example, intentionally trying to collide with an aircraft, strapping explosives or poisons and flying them into crowds over stadiums or VIP events. Just because something so far hasn’t intentionally been done successfully with large impact doesn’t mean that it can’t happen in the future and that the security industry shouldn’t be preparing.
BRINK: Can you explain how the DroneShield technology works?
Hearing: Passive acoustics listen for the sound of drones. When we hear a noise, we compare that spectrum to that of our database of drones. If we find a good enough match, we issue an alert. The alert can be sent via text message or an email, or as complex as the end-user wants. This can also be integrated with video management systems and automatically have a camera over to the site to verify if it’s actually a drone.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com