Stop That Drone: Keeping Flying Threats at Bay

(DGIwire) – How can drones be kept from flying where they shouldn’t? According to Reuters, a range of companies are developing techniques to deal with drones that are being used to engage in a variety of illegal activities. Reuters notes, for example, that drones have been used to smuggle mobile phones, drugs and weapons into prisons, while armed groups in Iraq, Ukraine, Syria and Turkey are increasingly using off-the-shelf drones for reconnaissance or as improvised explosive devices.

“The use of drones in ways that present a threat to governments, corporations and others is likely to continue to spread,” says Jonathan Hunter, CEO of Department 13. “This is feeding demand for increasingly advanced technology to bring down or disable unwanted drones, such as by cracking the radio wireless protocols used to control an intended drone.”

Mesmer™, developed by Department 13, is a revolutionary commercial counter-drone platform, using sophisticated automated detection and mitigation strategies to stop, redirect, land or take total control of a target drone or radio-controlled device. This is done with protocol manipulation, which takes advantage of weaknesses found in all digital radio protocols. Mesmer is also flexible, operating as a stand-alone system, or working in tandem with existing hardware solutions. Mesmer is ideal for both commercial and defense/security organizations to deal with the emerging threat of ubiquitous autonomous systems. The company’s counter-drone solution offers the best of Department 13’s innovative technologies and deep experience.

Unlike other systems that use radio jamming and standard electronic mitigation techniques, Mesmer uses signal features and metadata to select and apply strategies in order to curtail drone threats, regardless of how drone vendors may try and prevent this from happening. This protocol manipulation is low-power so it offers an advantage by not affecting non-targeted communication signals. This also allows Mesmer to operate below one watt and within U.S. regulatory (FCC) constraints.

Hunter and his Department 13 colleagues suggest that threats, constraints and user needs will continuously change and evolve as drones and devices are implemented in the real world. So instead of a purpose-built hardware solution approach, they designed Mesmer software to use protocol manipulation to handle even the most complex of scenarios, providing end users with a powerful and flexible counter-drone system.

The Mesmer platform addresses diverse threat scenarios and drone types. It allows the possibility of “non-kinetic mitigations” (i.e. drones are not shot down) that pose no public hazards. Its open software architecture integrates with other security applications. Furthermore, the platform is operational in multi-terrain (urban, remote and rugged) environments, and it is easily deployed to support mobile counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) operation.

“Technologies such as those we are now developing could represent the future of drone protection strategies,” Hunter adds.

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