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Swiss police were pictured in Davos testing anti-drone jammers, which resemble massive machine guns, as part of security preparations for the World Economic Forum. The concern was that drones could be used to take pictures and map police and security positions, conduct surveillance, or, in a worst-case scenario, launch an attack.
In Davos, police were testing to make sure the equipment was ready and able to take down any drones potentially carrying out covert missions, said Steffen Wicker, managing director at H.P. Marketing & Consulting Wüst, which makes the jamming guns pictured.
The German company has sold various types of jamming equipment to police and military forces around the world for almost 30 years. Demand for drone-specific devices has risen as the flying machines have become cheaper and more prevalent, Wicker said.
“In the past, our main customers were in the Middle East,” Wicker said in a phone interview to bloomberg.com. Customers used the jammers to guard against terrorist attacks, he said.
Despite the resemblance to guns, jammers don’t literally shoot the drones. The specific model in operation at Davos, the HP 47 Counter UAV Jammer, specializes in blocking signals from drones more than 1,000 feet away. The HP 47 was used last year by German police in Berlin during President Barack Obama’s visit, as well as during a security conference in Hamburg in December, Wicker said.
The HP 47 interferes with a drone by blocking it from sending signals back to its operator and disabling remote-control access. The drone wouldn’t be able to transmit its video feed, either. The drone wouldn’t just drop to the ground. Instead, it should hover in place within an invisible fence created by the jammer. At that point, snipers could target the drone, or security officials could launch a rocket-propelled net to capture it.
OpenWorks, a British startup, has developed a device that uses a parachute to float a captured drone to the ground.