Drone pilots have been capturing photos and video from above the scenes of the new Star Wars Episode VII, revealing a half-built Millennium Falcon and a black X-Wing fighter parked in the verdant English countryside about 50 miles outside London. Those leaks might have been prevented, Motherboard reports, if only Pinewood Studios had received its DroneShield on time.
The DroneShield is an early detection system that relies on "common drone acoustic signatures," according to the company, sussing out hobbyist drones that are too small to be picked up by radar. The system sends a text message or email alert when a drone is nearby, which would theoretically give Pinewood Studios enough time to pull a tarp over the Millenium Falcon. (That is, if it actually works: DroneShield warned during its crowdfunding campaign last year that the system may not detect new or modified drones whose sound signatures are not in the database, and may also be thrown off by background noise.)
Pinewood Studios ordered its DroneShield back in June, anticipating snooping by super fans. Unfortunately, export regulations got in the way.
In addition to celebrities, prisons, and blockbuster sci-fi sets, DroneShield also markets its system to to the military. And under US International Traffic in Arms Regulations, or ITAR, technology that has a military use cannot be shipped out of the country without explicit approval. DroneShield's ITAR application has not been approved yet. Time to start construction on the Planet Defender.