DARPA Wants You! To Down Rogue Drones

DARPA_LogoThe Pentagon’s futuristic think tank is thinking about how to stop errant drones and it wants the public’s help.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Tactical Technology Office this week announced a request for information to help create “novel, flexible, mobile layered” anti-drone solutions to defend “fixed and mobile ground and naval forces from possible drone threats.”

The agency stated that they were seeking any “ideas, methodologies, and approaches” for new drone protection systems – dubbed “mobile force protection.”

DARPA says that, at this stage, submissions to the request are for information and planning purposes only. Inventors who submit the best ideas will be invited to a workshop at DARPA headquarters in Arlington, Va.

“Commercial interest and a large and active open source community enable very rapid improvement of sUAS capabilities in general, which adversaries could potentially use against U.S. warfighters,” the document states.

The agency believes that rogue drones will require innovative concepts to detect, track and kill errant UAVs. Any new anti-drone solution, the agency says must work “on a compressed timeline, and while mitigating collateral damage and providing flexibility to operations in multiple mission environments.” In other words – DARPA is pretty darn serious.

Over the past two years, the U.S. military has quietly declared a virtual war on irresponsible drone users – the type who invade airport space or fly too close to wildfires (or even the White House).

In May, U.S. Army Cyber Warfare Officer Brent Chapman released plans for an open-source, anti-drone “gun” to the Maker community. The DIY device uses a Raspberry Pi mini-computer, a Wi-Fi card, open source software and a tin can, to neutralize Wi-Fi-guided drones.

During a demonstration at West Point in March, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter downed a drone with the army’s newest innovation – an inexpensive drone killer that can be built for about $150 in parts (also created by Chapman and other officers).

DARPA’s request is yet another sign that the anti-drone industry will continue to keep pace3 with the UAV industry’s rocketing success.

A recent study predicts the emerging market will to grow to a billion-dollar industry within six years with predicted compound annual growth rate of 23.89 percent across 2017-22.

Earlier this year, the FAA joined forces with “government, industry and academia partners” to test drone detection tech at JFK airport and experts say the agency will likely invest more funds into similar projects going forward.


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