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Startups take aim at errant drones

China Daily | Updated: 2017-01-04 10:04

Startups take aim at errant drones

A camera-equipped "Inspire 1" unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), or drone, of DJI Technology Co hovers during a test in Shanghai, Jan 10, 2015. [Photo/IC]

A boom in consumer drone sales has spawned a counter-industry of startups aiming to keep drones from flying where they shouldn't by disabling them or knocking them out of the sky.

Dozens of startup companies are developing techniques-from deploying birds of prey to firing gas-to take on unmanned aerial vehicles that are being used to smuggle drugs, drop bombs, spy on enemy lines or buzz public spaces.

The arms race is fed in part by the slow pace of government regulation of drones.

"There's a bit of a fear factor," said Kyle Landry, an analyst at Lux Research. "The high volume of drones, plus regulations that can't quite keep pace, equals a need for personal counter-drone technology."

According to market researcher Tractica, the consumer drone market is expected to be worth $5 billion by 2021.

Drones have been used to smuggle mobile phones, drugs and weapons into prisons. One US prison warden has an impromptu display of drones that his officers have confiscated.

Armed groups in Iraq, Ukraine, Syria and Turkey are increasingly using drones for reconnaissance or as improvised explosive devices, said Nic Jenzen-Jones, director of Armament Research Services, a weapons consultant.

Some startups are focusing on cracking the radio wireless protocols used to control a drone's direction and then taking it over and blocking its video transmission.


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