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As drone technology advanced, the popularity and usage of drones rose with it. This brought about a lot of different problems safety-wise as well as on the legal side.
That being said, there are security measures you can take to make sure you are safe from any illegal drone activity. The counter-drone technology offers many solutions for the wide range of problems that might occur.
In this review, we will cover everything you need to know about drone jammers as well as many other counter-drone technologies, so without any more delay, let’s dive right into the review.
What is Counter drone tech?
Counter-UAS, often known as C-UAS, refers to systems that detect and/or intercept unmanned aircraft systems in flight. Counter-UAS technology is continuously growing and changing as drones become more widely used.
The rise of C-UAS technology can be attributed to growing worries about the danger that drones offer in civilian and military settings. Drone detection technology detects unmanned aerial systems (UAS) or drones in the air.
👉 Radar, RF sensors, and PTZ cameras are some of the ways used to detect drones. Drone detection detects trespassing drones in the airspace when they fly within the protected border.
Drone mitigation or interception is accomplished by electronically or physically interfering with drone flight. Drone mitigation technology includes drone jammers, spoofers, nets, and security drones.
Although the language used to describe drone countermeasures is sometimes used similarly, there is a distinction between drone detection and various drone countermeasures technologies.
Drone detection technology provides users with situational knowledge, allowing them to make educated judgments and take proper legal action. In comparison to interception technologies, which may or may not be legal, drone detection technology has the benefit of being legal.
What are drone jammers?
Drone jamming is the most often used method of drone interception. Drone jamming works by interfering with the radio frequency link that connects the drone to its operator. This practice is not only unlawful, but it may also be dangerous owing to drones falling to the ground.
C-UAS technology poses a wide range of practical, legal, and policy issues in all operational situations; what works in one setting may not work in another.
The use of a drone signal jammer is comparable to the use of a cell phone blocker. Drones use GPS to navigate and rely on continuous data to function. GPS, like radio waves, has a very low signal power.
That implies that any powerful blocker can interrupt the signal sufficiently to cause the drone to crash.
GPS systems are likewise unprotected by encryption or passwords. As a result, drones are vulnerable to signals to spoof or broadcast fake GPS information. This confuses the drone and frequently causes it to crash since it is unable to navigate properly.
Signal spoofing is especially risky since it allows drones to circumvent geo-fencing systems, which are used by military bases and other organizations to control airspace. A drone jammer sends interference radio waves at the same frequency as the GPS tracker on the drone.
GPS, unlike a cell phone, receives signals from several sources. While a mobile phone receives a signal from the nearest tower, a GPS receiver receives at least four signals from satellites orbiting the Earth. It can compute its position after it obtains enough signals.
The drone jammer, like the mobile phone jammer, interferes with the transmission. Then it is unable to determine its location, thus, it has no idea where it is and is unable to steer the drone.
Not only may a drone jammer interfere with the communication between the operator and the drone, but it can also interfere with the drone’s ability to determine its position. Both possibilities leave the drone inoperable and make monitoring you and your family difficult.
How do drone jammers work?
The only anti-drone device in existence, short of shooting down a drone with actual bullets, is what is generally referred to as a “drone jammer.” As the name indicates, such a gadget will jam the frequency that a drone uses to connect with its base station — either 2.4 GHz or 5.8 GHz, which are unassigned, public frequencies. This prohibits jammers from interfering with piloted airplanes, mobile phones, public broadcasting, or other radio frequencies that are dedicated.
👉 The drone jammer does this by sending out its own electromagnetic signal at the same wavelength as the drone, essentially overpowering the drone’s communication capabilities. Most of the time, this will result in the drone triggering its Return to Home feature, which will allow the drone pilot to be recognized.
This description may bring up visions of a drone jammer that resembles a rifle; however, this is not always the case. True, there are portable drone jammers on the market.
However, they are large and cumbersome devices that require a lot of work to deploy and cannot be utilized invisibly. Perimeter-based drone jamming solutions, which employ signal emitters located around an area that has to be safeguarded from drone intrusion, are more often deployed.
Pros and Cons of using drone jammers
- Keeps you safe from unwanted spying or danger
- Stops drones that are used for illegal activities
- Only certain federal agencies can use them making it safe
- Stop unwanted tracking of you or your vehicles
- Drone jammers are prohibited in the majority of countries, including the United States.
- Because drones may fly without GPS, drone jammers are less effective against drones that have been pre-programmed to follow a certain course.
- Drone jammers prevent the C-UAS from gaining positive control over its targets.
- Drone jammers are unable to pinpoint the pilot or the flight route.
- Drone jammers interfere with other nearby communication signals, such as telephones, and may hinder 9-1-1 calls in the case of an actual threat.
The Legality of Drone Jammers
The majority of anti-drone technology is being developed for national security reasons. This makes it ironic that the most significant barriers to anti-drone technology are already in place. If you wonder which laws could be breached if anti-drone technology is in use, here are many of them.
In many respects, employing drone jammers to interrupt public communication frequencies is comparable to deploying similar devices to disrupt smartphone signals. This implies that it is unlawful, as stated in Section 333 of Title 47 of the United States Code, often known as the Communications Act of 1934.
This clause clearly forbids the conduct of deliberate or malicious interference with any kind of radio transmission.
The sheer fact that a drone jammer is referred to as a “jammer” precludes its usage, production, and importation without the approval of the federal government. Furthermore, under the Commission’s standards, the individual operating a jammer must be licensed.
The FCC regulations don’t mention anything new, but they do reaffirm that the manufacturing, sale, importation, and operation of jammers is usually illegal, with certain exceptions, such as institutions under the US government.
👉 When a drone jammer is employed, there is always the possibility of the drone losing control, crashing, and causing property damage or personal harm. This implies that even government-authorized workers may face responsibility when using a drone jammer. As a result, the deployment of drone jammers by commercial institutions such as power companies or airports remains a risk.
Finally, various laws in the United States Criminal Code can be read to argue against the deployment of drone jammers. The legislation not only forbids interfering with satellite and radio communications but also the destruction of airplanes, which drones fall under.
Furthermore, drone jamming might be considered a type of hacking, which is another illegal crime under the US Criminal Code.
The purpose of this entire list of laws that might possibly be broken by using drone jammers is that it’s basically unlawful behavior. Even if it is for the security of their own property, a citizen is unlikely to be granted permission to employ a drone jammer. Even shooting down a drone with an old-fashioned pistol can result in civil and criminal action that will almost certainly be decided in favor of the drone’s owner.
Types of counter drone tech
The fast advancement of drone technology, combined with a growing awareness of their potential threat, has resulted in a thriving drone detection sector.
Although technology vendors provide accurate detection systems, enterprises are now faced with a new challenge: how do you respond to an alert? Each drone countermeasure has advantages and disadvantages, and selecting the best one is difficult.
There are several drone detection systems, as well as numerous drone countermeasures. When developing a drone response strategy, companies must consider the laws of the airspace surrounding them, as well as the practicality and pros and disadvantages of each countermeasure. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every danger or even every firm within a particular industry.
In general, the counter-drone technology can be separated into two categories, passive and active.
Passive methods entail decreasing the harm caused by a drone’s presence without actively interrupting the drone. If the drone is identified in a timely manner, you may dispatch security personnel to intercept it, bring people to safety, block the drone’s vision, lock cell doors and gates in the event of a correctional institution, and check the location for fallen things.
This strategy has a number of benefits. It can be incredibly effective depending on the use. It does not require government clearance and can be used in conjunction with the previously described countermeasures.
It lowers the likelihood of someone being injured in a collision. The main disadvantage of this countermeasure is that it does not stop the drone. A harmful cargo may still be delivered, and production suffers in the meanwhile as you try to limit the risk to your workers and other assets.
👉 On the other hand, the identified drone is physically stopped by active means. This is their most significant benefit. When drones are halted in most circumstances, they pose a collision danger, which can result in physical injury and even fatalities, particularly in densely populated regions. Another disadvantage is that in most nations, police enforcement can only deploy these in the case of an urgent threat.
Drone Monitoring Equipment
Drone Monitoring Equipment can be passive (merely watching or listening) or active (sending a signal out and analyzing the response) and can perform a variety of roles, including Alerting, Detection, Classification or Identification and Locate and Tracking.
You should know that not every piece of equipment can do all of the aforementioned functions at the same time. The term detection refers to the technology’s ability to detect drones. However, detection alone is seldom sufficient. Radar that can detect drones, for example, may also detect birds.
That is why categorization is beneficial. Drone classification technology is typically capable of distinguishing drones from other sorts of things, such as planes, trains, and vehicles.
Identification is the next stage. Some equipment may recognize a specific model of drone or even the drone’s or controller’s digital fingerprint, such as a MAC address. This degree of identification can be useful in criminal prosecution.
👉 Being notified when a drone is present someplace nearby is already valuable. However, knowing the exact position of the drone (and/or the controller) improves your situational awareness and ability to launch countermeasures. Some equipment will even allow you to track the location of the drone in real-time.
Drone monitoring equipment is classified into four types: Analyzers of Radio Frequency (RF), Sensors for acoustics (Microphones), Sensors, Optical (Cameras), and Radars.
Radio Frequency (RF) Analyzers
RF Analyzers are made up of one or more antennas for receiving radio waves and a CPU for analyzing the RF spectrum. They are employed in an attempt to identify radio communication between a drone and its controller.
Some systems can recognize the most popular drone manufacturers and models, while some can even recognize the addresses of the drone and controller (if the drone uses WiFi for communication). This is especially valuable for verifying that a certain drone and controller were operational.
When employing numerous radio units distributed far apart, certain high-end systems may additionally triangulate the drone and its controller.
Some of the pros of radiofrequency analyzers are minimal cost, detects (and sometimes identifies) many drones and controllers, passive (no license required), and some can calculate drone and controller location. On the other hand, it cannot always identify and track drones, it cannot detect autonomous drones, it is less effective in congested RF zones, and it has a limited range.
Acoustic Sensors (Microphones)
Typically, a microphone or microphone array (a large number of microphones) detects the sound generated by a drone and estimates its direction. For approximate triangulation, additional sets of microphone arrays might be employed.
The advantages of acoustic sensors are: detects all drones in the near-field, even those that operate autonomously (without human intervention) (RF-emissions),detect drones in areas where other technology may struggle, excellent gap-filler in places where other sensors do not have line-of-sight, highly movable and deployable in a short period of time, completely unresponsive.
The disadvantage is it doesn’t operate well in loud surroundings and has a very small range (max. 300-500 m).
Optical Sensors (Cameras)
Essentially, it is a video camera. In addition to typical daylight cameras, optical sensors may also be used for infrared or thermal photography.
The advantages of optical sensors (cameras) are: provides pictures of the drone and its (possible) payload; photographs can be recorded as forensic evidence for use in a future trial.
On the other hand, there are also some disadvantages: difficult to utilize for detection on its own, high false-alarm rates, generally poor performance in the dark, fog, and so on.
Radar is a gadget that detects an item via radio energy. Drone detection radar puts out a signal and then receives the reflected signal, determining the direction and distance (position).
Most radars broadcast their radio signal in bursts and then listen for the ‘echo.’ Almost all radars are not intended to detect tiny objects. They are intended for tracking big objects such as passenger airplanes.
✅ Pros: Long range, consistent tracking, very precise localization, can handle hundreds of targets at once, can monitor all drones regardless of autonomous flying, and is independent of visual conditions (day, night, fog, etc.)
❌ Cons: Detection range varies with drone size, most do not discriminate between birds and drones, require a broadcast license and frequency verification to avoid interference.
Radio Frequency Jammers
An RF Jammer is a device that delivers a huge quantity of RF energy to the drone, obscuring the controlling signal. It can be stationary, mobile, or handheld. Depending on the drone, this leads to one of four scenarios:
The drone makes a safe landing in its current location
The drone returns to the user-specified home location (which could be set to a target position instead of home)
The drone crashes to the ground uncontrollably
The drone flies off in an uncontrollable random path.
Advantages: Low cost, non-kinetic neutralization.
Cons: Short-range, might interfere with (and jam) other radio signals, can cause unexpected drone behavior, and may accidentally send the drone to its objective.
Spoofers send phony GPS signals that imitate authentic ones, whereas jammers function by blocking RF frequencies. Spoofers take over a drone’s communication link by sending out a fake signal that the device interprets as authentic because it is a replica of the original signal.
The spoofer operates by sending out a stronger counterfeit signal. The spoofer can generate a slight delay between the drone and the controller before emitting the louder bogus signal. The spoofer now has command of the gadget and can fly the drone. The GPS receiver is duped by the spoofer.
If your UAS device uses GPS for flying, GPS spoofing is difficult to defend against. GPS is a signal transmitted by satellites. GPS satellite transmissions cannot be protected using traditional security methods such as encryption and certifications.
👉 You must be wondering what happens to a drone that is spoofed. Most important of all, the command of the drone is completely yours; you are the pilot of the drone now. Additionally, you are granted access to any data that is on the drone, the flight history as well as the camera feed are at your disposal.
As a C-UAS, Spoofer has four primary disadvantages: most nations, including the United States, make drone spoofers illegal, drone spoofers are far less efficient against non-GPS-enabled drones, drone spoofers are unable to identify the pilot or flight route, drone jammers interfere with other adjacent GPS signals, making it impossible for authorities to utilize GPS equipment in an emergency.
Nets and Guns
Firing a net at a drone, or otherwise putting a net into touch with a drone, causes the drone to come to a halt by preventing the rotor blades from spinning. There are three major kinds:
Hand-held, shoulder-launched, or turret-mounted net cannon fired from the ground. Effectiveness ranges from 20m to 300m. It can be employed with or without a parachute to control the fall of a captured drone.
Net gun launched from another drone: overcomes the limited range of ground-based net cannon. Capturing another moving drone can be tough, normally used in conjunction with a parachute to control the fall of a captured drone.
A ‘net drone’ deploys a hanging net. By maneuvering the friendly net-carrying drone towards the rogue drone, the drone is captured. The ‘net drone’ will generally be capable of either taking the rogue drone to a safe zone or, if the caught drone is too heavy, of releasing it with or without a parachute for a controlled landing.
A high-energy laser is a high-powered optical device that generates a very concentrated beam of light, also known as a laser beam. The laser destroys the drone’s structure and/or circuitry, thereby defeating it.
The advantage is that it physically stops the drone.
Disadvantages are: expensive, high chance of collateral harm, big system, primarily experimental technology.
Birds of Prey
Small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS) and off-the-shelf (COTS) drones have been trained to be captured by eagles. Man has employed birds for hunting for thousands of years.
This method makes use of the eagles’ innate hunting tendencies. This is a low-tech approach, but it demands a significant amount of labor for training (at least one year per bird) and sustaining the birds of prey.
Advantages: If the birds are nearby, the interception of the drone can be swift and accurate, with little possibility of collateral harm. There are several parallels with military working dog (MWD) teams and K9 training teams therefore, they might potentially be operationalized for this answer.
Disadvantages: Difficult to scale owing to a limited number of accessible birds, manpower demanding training and maintenance, and the birds themselves might be a threat at airports.
No, only specific government agencies are permitted by law to jam drone transmissions. Anyone else doing it is breaking the law.
Yes, which is why, with the exception of some federal agencies, using them to jam drones is forbidden. Drones use the same radio frequencies as many other devices, such as Bluetooth and WiFi. You not only jam the drone’s radio but also everyone else’s radios in the region. This is extremely illegal.
It is advised that you do not take matters into your own hands and simply notify the local authorities about your situation. Taking issues into your own hands might result in a variety of criminal and civil penalties.
Drone jammers are not legal in the state of California, like we already mentioned, only the federal agencies that have been granted permission are allowed to use drone jammers.
Like we said, taking the drone down on your own can result in serious penalties for you, simply notify the local authorities and let them handle the situation. Only the selected few federal agencies have the permission to jam or possibly even shoot down the drone.
No, you cannot shoot down a drone in your yard unless you want to face serious consequences for your actions. The US law clearly states that destroying a drone or an aircraft is a federal crime. That being said, just notify your local authorities and let them handle the situation for you.
It is illegal to shoot down a drone because of federal law. Additionally, a lot of states also have laws that prohibit you from destroying other people’s property. It is in your best interest to just notify the local authorities.
Are drone jammers necessary❓
As of now, only the selected federal agencies are permitted to use drone jammers, so in that regard, it is not necessary for you to possess a drone jammer, on the contrary, it is best that you do not have or even use one because of the federal law that prohibits their use.
No, you have no reason to be worried about drone jammers, there are but a few scenarios where they can be used because of the possible collateral damage that might ensue because of them. So an average drone pilot has no reason whatsoever to worry about drone jammers.