Article and report by Droneii
With airport incidents and rogue drone reports piling up across the globe, the demand for anti-drone solutions has never been higher. Beyond witnessing the counter-drone market grow and forecasting how it will do in the future, it is crucial to understand the market landscape i.e. to get a grasp of what anti-drone solutions and measures are currently available.
Broadly speaking, anti-drone solutions and measures can be split into three types: detection, non-interactive measures, and interdiction. These three broad groups vary greatly in the ways that they are able to help you protect yourself against a rogue drone, as does the technology that underpins them and the regulations and that limit them.
Detection, Tracking and Identification
The very first step in dealing with a drone threat is to become aware that one is actually near you. This is exactly what counter-drone detection solutions are built to do – using a variety of sensors you can be aware of rogue drones in your surroundings.
Due to the fact that they are non-intrusive detection tools are often open to not just governmental bodies, police and the military, but also to companies and private individuals. However, it is very important to bear in mind that data protection and privacy laws are very strict when it comes to detection tools, and that these must be adhered to in order to appropriately use this technology.
So what is this wide array of tools? The sensors used to detect rogue drones vary greatly and can be acoustic, thermal, radar, visual or radio frequency (RF). Each of these solutions comes with its own pros and cons, which we discuss further in our Counter-Drone Market Report, which is why they are often used in conjunction with one another.
Once a rogue is identified and believed to be headed towards a restricted or vulnerable area, there are two ways to begin to deal with the threat: 1) to employ non-interactive measures to reduce the impact that the drone can have on the facility; or 2) to immediately employ interdiction methods which will remove the drone from the restricted area.
Given how legally restricted and also expensive interdiction tools can be, many facilities often first employ non-interactive anti-drone measures. Depending on the threat, these could range from sounding an alarm to interrupt an event, to closing the window blinds to prevent spying, shutting down Wi-Fi to avert cyber-attacks or even evacuate an area to bring people to safety. There are many options which are often very inexpensive and fairly easy to execute.
Due to the fact that drone threats are relatively new in the civilian world, not many facilities yet have a strategy or standardised policy set in place when it comes to dealing with threats. This is exactly what they’ll be devising over the next couple of years as the number of drones in the air increases.
Sometime non-interactive counter measures are not available or sufficient enough. In this case, there is another way to address the threat: interdict it. These are usually rather sophisticated solutions which can be quite expensive and usually rely on a legally restricted ways to deal with a rogue drone.
Interdiction solutions can be split into two smaller groups: kinetic and non-kinetic solutions. This distinguished between anti-drone tools which use physical means to take down a drone from the sky and those which use not physical but signal-based tools to stop, divert or move a drone from the restricted area.
When it comes to kinetic solutions, there are lasers, nets and projectiles designed to be used from the ground, by hand or even sometimes with the help of an interceptor drone to take down a rogue platform. Meanwhile, when it comes to non-kinetic solutions both RF and satellite (GNSS) links can be exploited in order to jam or spoof a device.
Given the sheer lethality and complexity of these tools, they are currently only legally available to armed forces, the police and other authorised compartments of governments. Those are also usually the only actors who have such high budgets allocated towards security. Nevertheless, as the number of drones in the air increases, it is likely that authorities will increasingly cooperate with civilian sectors in order to help protect critical infrastructure against any threats. Governments are already working on creating legal roadmaps for the use of anti-drone tech in the coming years.
As our infographic shows and our report further explores, there are many solutions on the market (575 to be exact). The key success factor for counter-drone companies is a) to further develop detection and interdiction methods for a fast-changing market, and b) that regulations develop in such a way as to allow for anti-drone measures to be deployed more widely. The big challenge for clients is it to oversee the huge variety of offerings and to find the right solution for their needs.
Currently, we are observing a similar evolution of the counter-drone market that we saw 2 years ago for the commercial drone market. At the beginning drone manufacturers just sold the hardware by ignoring that there is much more to consider offering a successful product. This is where the counter-drone market is now. In the future, companies will be focusing on covering the whole workflow from detection via threat level estimation to deciding on the following steps and implementing interdiction procedures if needed. This will have to be integrated into existing systems by involving all relevant stakeholder and systems and defining communication guidelines.