An anti-UAV company’s drone-dropping launcher proved to be Top Gun during a recent industry competition.
Start-up firm OpenWorks Engineering won the Best UAS Interdiction Award at the Countering Unauthorized Unmanned Aircraft Systems Challenge in August. The company’s flagship product, SkyWall, stopped the most drones out of seven finalists.
Staged at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia, the competition is sponsored by MITRE, an organization that operates federally funded research and development centers.
According to a MITRE statement, the endgame of the competition is to “help government agencies better understand what solutions are possible in this space and inform policy and requirement decisions.”
During the competition, challengers faced off to protect a mock-up village from a variety of drone attacks. National Geographic filmed the event and is expected to release a program early next year.
SkyWall100 resembles a missile launcher and can deploy an “intelligent projectile with on-board countermeasures” up to 100 meters. After the launcher’s targeting AI calculates a drone’s trajectory, the launched projectile hunts down the errant drone, apprehending it with an on-board net/parachute apparatus.
“Capturing a drone is the best way to ensure control of a situation is maintained,” a company spokesperson said. “Once captured it can be impounded, forensically investigated or simply handed back with some words of education where appropriate.”
The British firm plans to ship pre-production versions of SkyWall in October.
“This successful endeavour certainly puts OpenWorks Engineering on the map and further cements SkyWall100 as one of the counter-measures of choice when dealing with nefarious drones,” said OpenWorks Marketing Director James Cross.
Defending civilian and military assets against errant or hostile drones has emerged as a top priority among government agencies of late.
Last month, 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.”
A recent study predicts the anti-drone market will to grow into a billion-dollar industry within six years with predicted compound annual growth rate of 23.89 percent across 2017-22.