The US Senate passed a bill Tuesday to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, including a provision to create a pilot program to test new technologies to intercept or shut down drones that get too close to airports. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) said the program was in response to rising concerns about drone safety and airplanes after a drone struck a British Airways plane near London's Heathrow Airport.
"Remember what happened when two seagulls were sucked into the engines of a flight called the Hudson River miracle," Nelson told The Hill. "That's feathers and webbed feet and a beak. Can you imagine the metal and plastic of a drone being sucked into a jet engine?"
The Senate is only the latest to jump onboard the drone-killing bandwagon
If the House approves the measure, it could be a boon for the emerging cottage industry of drone neutralizers. Federal dollars could flow into the pockets of startups designing innovative ways to kill a drone. Drones are fun for video enthusiasts and vloggers, but they can easily be used for more insidious purposes. Drones can crash into planes, deliver drugs to prisoners, rip out your eyeball, or invade restricted airspace around our national monuments or nuclear power plants. Heck, even the animal world is starting to wake up to the looming drone threat. Here are some of the best methods for grounding a rogue quadcopter.
A new startup called SkySafe unveiled its "spoofing" technology today that allows law enforcement or anyone interested in protecting critical airspace to hijack a drone's controls and neutralize it. "We fully take control of the drone from the operator, it sees us as the legitimate controller, and we can move it to a safe location and land it," co-founder Grant Jordan told The Verge.
2. Radio jammers:
Battelle recently released its Drone Defender, an assault-weapon-shaped radio jammer that's all the rage with federal authorities (with the proper permits) because it allows them to basically steal control of a drone from its owner. Plus it looks like a gun from Hailo or some other first-person shooter, and who wouldn't want to give that thing a whirl. Never mind the fact that they exist in a legal grey area, since drones are regulated like aircraft and it's against the law for anyone to interfere with aircraft, even the police.
3. Drones with nets:
In response to some foolish protestor landing a tiny piece of radioactive sand on the roof of the home of Japan's prime minister last year, Tokyo's police department got serious about drone neutralizing. So much so that they attached a large net to an interceptor drone to use to catch rogue quadcopters.
4. More nets:
When you don't trust a drone to betray its own kind, that's when you turn to the net-firing gun. Drone Shield bills its product as the "only legal, safe, and reliable option when you feel threatened by drones." Bag ‘em and tag ‘em.
5. A freaking eagle:
Dutch police recently teamed up with a raptor training company named Guard From Above to see if birds of prey can be used to intercept quadcopters. The country's law enforcement officials want to train the birds to pluck drones out of the sky without necessarily destroying them.
Sensing that there was almost as much talk about destroying its products as there is about using them, drone companies DJI and 3DR recently began offering a new geofencing safety system to better keep drones out of restricted areas. Think of it like an invisible fence for your pet dog — only in the sky somehow.
7. Mother Nature:
The animal kingdom is our last line of defense against a complete drone takeover. When human civilization falls into ashes, and our new drone overlords laugh at us from their sky palaces, our only salvation will come from our animal friends, who — let's face it — are really, really good at taking down drones.
Animals got our backs.