Signal-jamming DroneGun used by Australian Defence Force during international summit

It looks like something Judge Dredd would carry, but this device keeps drones grounded without ballistics.

dronegun.jpg

Drones are a real concern for public safety officials who have been scrambling to figure out how to defend against them during big events.

One company, DroneShield, believes the answer lies in jamming an encroaching drone's control signals.

Read also: AI 'more dangerous than nukes': Elon Musk still firm on regulatory oversight | Executive's guide to implementing blockchain technology

That strategy got some endorsement on the world stage during the recent ASEAN Summit in Sydney, where members of the Australian Defence Force deployed with the company's DroneGun.

"Monitoring of drone activity at high profile events has become an important component of event management, similar to perimeter access control or participant credentialing," DroneShield CEO Oleg Vornik told me via email. "DroneShield's product DroneGun was used by the Australian Defence Force at the event, on behalf of the New South Wales Police for the protection of the participants from potential drone threats."

The device, which comes in a few configurations, is a fully integrated rifle-style countermeasure that works against a wide range of drone models. Though it looks like the gnarliest gun you've ever seen, it's actually a high-powered jamming device capable of disrupting multiple frequency bands simultaneously.

By jamming radio frequencies and signals from positioning satellites, the device disrupts commercial drone control functions.

Read also: What are the best Raspberry Pi alternatives? | Laundroid: A home robot that folds and sorts clothes

Though an out-of-control drone may sound like a bad thing, the countermeasure takes advantage of behaviors common to off-the-shelf and commercially available UAV. When a control signal is lost, drones will either immediately land, return to their launch location, or hover until batteries drain, at which point they enter a controlled landing mode.

If the jammed drones do return to their starting point, investigators have a chance of apprehending the pilot. If the drones are captured, they can be forensically examined.

The DroneGun isn't for sale in the US, except to government agencies.

Other drone countermeasures run the gamut, from the giant nerf-style gun that protects presidents to trained birds of prey that attack drones as if they're food.