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A counter-drone system designed to foil anything from explosive aerial robots to protecti against corporate espionage from the skies was showcased recently. Three German companies, Rohde & Schwarz, ESG and Diehl Defence, which made their joint debut at the Paris Air Show, inked an agreement earlier this month to further develop the Guardion suite of systems, which already was deployed to guard the 2015 G-7 summit in southern Germany, and the 2016 visit of U.S. President Barack Obama in Hannover.
According to defensenews.com, the system consists of various sensors including radio, radar and acoustic designed to detect the presence of drones in the nearby air space. A command and control system, processes the sensor data and offers situational awareness of any incoming threats through a map-like visualization. Depending on the drone type, system operators will be able to initiate countermeasures ranging from shutting down the specific frequency band of the threat aircraft’s radio link, jamming the GPS signal or, in the case of fully autonomous aircraft operation via inertial navigation, cripple the approaching drone’s electronics with a high-power electromagnetic pulse.
Goetz Mayser, Rohde and Schwarz’s, director of C-UAV detection and counter solutions, said the company is “very active in China” in collecting radio frequency signatures of commercial unmanned aerial systems. Knowing the specific technology is important for jamming only drone targets during an operation, leaving all other civilian radio communications undisturbed, he said. Cataloging the characteristics from drone makers Parrot and DJI alone means covering 90 percent of the market, Mayser said.
According to Daniela Hildenbrand, ESG’s product manager for counter-drone systems, the market is expected to see a significant uptick as the robots become ubiquitous in people’s everyday lives. “It’s growing along with the threat scenarios,” she said.
Engineers are still studying the possibility of offering a fourth method of countermeasures called spoofing. That tactic would allow operators to send fake navigational signals to incoming drones, effectively taking them over. However, that technology is still aways from being operationally deployable, said Mayser. Plus, taking control of someone else’s drone poses a potentially thorny legal question. “Once you take it over, you’re responsible,” he said.