The increasing availability of drones and their customizability make them a useful tool within many industries. Unfortunately, they're also being used for criminal purposes, such as to penetrate high-security areas like the White House and the Japanese Prime Minister’s office, so as drone technology thrives, counter-drone technology has cropped up as well.
Sydney- and Virginia-based security company DroneShield has revealed one such device: the DroneGun. This portable system can counter-control a wide range of drone models without destroying the intruding drone — it just forces it to land or return to its pilot. The DroneGun can also shut off a drone's video transmission ability and disable its signals, including those from positioning systems like GPS and GLONASS.
What's perhaps most impressive about the system is its ability to jam drone signals from distances as far as 1.9 kilometers (1.2 miles) away under many environmental conditions. Most rival jammers need to be much closer, which could be dangerous to users if the drone is carrying an explosive device. Use of the DroneGun has yet to be authorized by the US government.
Around 2.5 million drones were sold this year, and according to the Federal Aviation Administration, this number could almost triple to 7 million drones in 2020. While the tech could benefit such industries as agriculture, transportation, and even healthcare, its increasing usage presents a number of opportunities for crime.
It's truly dangerous to think what can happen when offenders don't need to be in the vicinity to harm people. Drone intrusion reports in the UK surged by 352 percent in just one year, most alleging that the tech was being used to spy on civilians, record PIN numbers, and serve as burglar lookouts. In warfare, drones are being used to rain down explosives.
Those with criminal intent will almost always be able to find nefarious ways to use the technology we create to benefit our work and personal lives. Cybercrime and technological terrorism are very present realities that we must actively prepare for, and counter-technologies such as this DroneGun are one of our best measures to keep ourselves safe.