Swiss Police deploying DroneShield’s DroneGun at this year World Economic Forum in Davos
The commercial drone industry has the potential to revolutionize the way people live and work. However, as drones advance and the technology gains more interest, there are some who will misuse and abuse these unmanned systems.
“Drones are a great invention and have applicability in many great ways, but unfortunately like with a lot of tools people use them for bad purposes as well,” said Oleg Vornik, CEO and managing director of DroneShield, a drone detection and countermeasure company.
DroneShield aims to protect people, organizations and critical infrastructure from the misuse of drones. According to Vornik, the company’s goals and views are aligned with the commercial drone industry in helping promote the safe use of drones.
The company uses acoustic detection technology over radar and radio frequencies to sense drones. The technology takes background noise and extracts drone sounds. The drone is then compared against a library of acoustic signatures, and if there is a match, a real-time alert is sent to the user.
In addition, DroneShield provides a drone gun as a countermeasure. The gun can jam drone signals, causing them to go back where they came from, or bring them down in a controlled manner.
DroneShield is used around airports to protect collisions; secure prisons; alert the government of any unwanted drones; monitor critical infrastructure; ensure the protection of personal safety, privacy and property; and protect commercial venues.
Aside from disrupting the safety and security of the airspace and people around them, the misuse of drones can hinder the innovation of the commercial industry. For instance, Vornik explained it is only a matter of time until drones cause a catastrophic event, intentionally or not. And when that happens, the legislation is “likely to restrict the development of the commercial drone industry,” he said.
As drones get smarter and take on more features and capabilities, more ways to use them illegally will arise. Geofencing is a great technology to keep them out of restricted areas, but if someone wants to use them for criminal intent, they can easily disable geofencing with some tweaking, Vornik explained. In order to minimize the risk, developers and manufacturers should ensure the drone systems are as secure as possible, he explained.
“As drones become more sophisticated, the likelihood of them being used for various purposes increases, so we see ourselves [engaging] in [an] arms race with those technologies in that as they become better and smarter, drones security systems need to step up and develop to keep up with them,” Vornik said.
Businesses and operators can ensure they are being compliant by understanding regulations and following all the protocols necessary to fly. “A lot of it is common sense, but understanding local regulations is critical,” Vornik said.
Drone detection systems don’t always distinguish between a rogue drone or a commercial drone because the parameters are set that no drones may fly within that area. However, Vornik envisions a future where technologies will tag drones in different ways so that they can identify what kind of drones they are based on their signatures. For instance, when drones in the U.S. are able to fly beyond-line-of-sight, it may be useful knowing when a delivery drone is approaching.
“There's a perception out there that drone security companies see drone manufacturers as bad guys, which is not true,” said Vornik. “We see ourselves on the same side of the equation as every drone manufacturer. No drone manufacturer wants to get caught in a security incident. We are aligned with the manufacturers on what we are trying to achieve, which is the safe use of drones.”