Which Anti-Drone Tech Can Minimize Collateral Damage?

June 30, 2024 | Yuval Statman

The soaring popularity of drones has ushered in a new era of convenience and innovation. However, their increasing presence has not come without its drawbacks. The proliferation of these aerial devices has introduced pressing concerns, such as invasions of privacy, heightened security risks, and the increased risk of both accidental and deliberate harm in areas bustling with people, high-security environments, and critical infrastructure sites.

Confronted with these issues, a pivotal question emerges: How can effective anti-drone measures be implemented to mitigate unauthorized drones without triggering unnecessary collateral damage?

This article delves into anti-drone tech and varying degrees of ability to safeguard security while reducing the risk of collateral damage.

Importance of Minimizing Collateral Damage

Collateral damage, by definition, arises from a ripple effect. Its consequences extend beyond the immediate target, impacting surrounding infrastructure, property, and even human life. Therefore, prioritizing the minimization of collateral damage is key when selecting and deploying anti-drone technologies. This imperative has two key aspects: ensuring safety and maintaining public trust.

Safety Concerns

Safety Concerns

The mitigation of unauthorized drones must prioritize safety for everyone involved, extending beyond bystanders in public areas to first responders and personnel at critical infrastructure sites (e.g., power plants and airports). A key risk lies in the potential for unintended harm in the event of a drone malfunction or through the mitigation method. Certain anti-drone tech can cause a drone to plummet if disabled mid-air. This uncontrolled descent presents a real danger to people and property on the ground, especially in densely populated areas. The severity of the potential damage depends on the drone’s size, payload (if any), and the location of the incident. 

Public Perception and Trust

Beyond physical safety, minimizing collateral damage is also vital for maintaining public trust in counter-UAS measures. Highly visible or overly aggressive responses to drones can backfire, causing public alarm and erosion of trust in authorities. Citizens may perceive such tactics as a threat to their safety or privacy or a too-aggressive approach to security when heavy-handed measures are employed in populated areas The public may justifiably perceive the countermeasure as more dangerous than the threat.

Anti-Drone Tech and Its Impact on Collateral Damage

In light of these considerations, the selection and deployment of anti-drone systems in sensitive environments must align with a commitment to minimizing collateral damage and supporting responses that are effective and appropriate. 

RF Cyber-Takeover Technology

EnforceAir

Best For: Urban environments and sensitive areas where minimizing physical damage and disruptions is critical.

How It Works: RF Cyber-Takeover technologies employ radio mitigation techniques to take control of the drone with surgical precision. Systems like EnforceAir2 exemplify this approach, providing a non-kinetic means to secure airspace.

Advantages: This technology grants full control over the drone to the operator, allowing for its safe landing and retrieval, enabling the obtainment of intelligence from the drone (if allowed for authorized personnel by applicable regulations. This capability is crucial in settings where the risk of collateral damage to infrastructure, electronics, or bystanders must be minimized.

Limitations: The effective range of RF Cyber-Takeover can be dependent on the surrounding signal and noise ratios.

Considerations: Operating personnel need training and education for deploying and operating RF Cyber-Takeover technology. They should understand how the technology functions, its capabilities, and best practices for its safe and effective use.

Lasers

Best For: Environments where a rapid and precise response is required, particularly where there is a clear line of sight to the target drone.

How It Works: Laser systems disable drones by emitting focused energy beams. These beams target the drones’ operational components, either damaging them or disrupting their functionality.

Advantages: These systems offer high-precision targeting and immediate effects upon contact, making them highly effective for quickly mitigating drone threats in real-time.

Limitations: Their effectiveness is contingent upon clear weather conditions, as fog, rain, or dust can diffuse or obstruct the laser beams. There are also significant safety concerns; misdirected beams can pose hazards to bystanders, and there is a risk of collateral damage from falling drone debris once the drone is disabled.

Considerations: Due to these potential risks, deploying directed energy systems requires strict control measures and safety protocols to prevent accidental harm to non-targets. Operators must secure the area around the target and put in place safety measures to contend with any debris from disabled drones. Additionally, these systems should be used in scenarios where the benefits and necessity of immediate drone mitigation outweigh the potential risks.

Jamming Systems

Best For: Establishing temporary no-fly zones, particularly during large events or in designated sensitive areas.

How It Works: Drone jamming systems work by disrupting the communication and navigation signals that are crucial for drone operation. This disruption typically results in the drone either returning to its original launch point or performing a safe landing.

Advantages: These systems are highly effective across wide areas and are capable of simultaneously handling multiple drones, including drone swarms. This makes them ideal for managing a large number of unauthorized drones quickly.

Limitations: The broad range of signal disruption can interfere with authorized drone operations, vital communications, and nearby electronic systems. This could lead to unintended collateral disruptions, affecting everything from cellular networks to emergency communication channels. 

Considerations: Due to their potential to disrupt a wide array of electronic operations, jamming systems should be used selectively, after consideration of the surrounding environment and operational needs, and perhaps in conjunction with other drone mitigation technologies to minimize broader impacts.

Drone-Killing Drones

Anti-Drone Tech: Drone-Killing Drones

Best For: Situations where immediate and active intervention is necessary to mitigate a hostile drone, especially in environments where other mitigation technologies might be less effective or feasible.

How It Works: Drone-killing drones engage unauthorized drones in several ways. They can capture targets using nets and tow them to a safe landing area. Some drone-killing drones are designed to ram into hostile drones, disabling them in mid-air. Others are equipped to shoot nets or projectiles to ensnare or disable targeted drones.

Advantages: This method is direct and proactive, offering a dynamic response to immediate threats. Drone-killing drones may be able to actively chase down and mitigate hostile drones, which is particularly useful against fast-moving or evasive targets.

Limitations: Achieving an accurate hit is a significant challenge, especially when targeting drones that maneuver unpredictably. The method requires sophisticated control, often necessitating skilled pilots or advanced autonomous systems capable of “dogfighting” maneuvers. Additionally, there is a risk of collateral damage from falling debris if the drone is disabled in flight and not safely towed to the ground. This method also carries the risk of damage from projectiles, which could affect bystanders or property in densely populated or sensitive areas.

Considerations: Given the potential for collateral impacts, this approach may be best reserved for scenarios where the threat level justifies a more aggressive response and where other, less invasive countermeasures are ineffective.

Secure Safety with Minimal Disruption

Secure Safety with Minimal Disruption

As drone technology continues to advance, the strategies for managing these devices in airspace must also progress. Carefully selecting and implementing appropriate anti-drone tech is essential to safeguarding sensitive areas and populated spaces from unauthorized drones while minimizing collateral damage.

For further guidance on selecting the appropriate anti-drone tech, explore these essential considerations for technology evaluators.

Yuval brings a unique perspective to the D-Fend Pre-Sales team. Before joining D-Fend, he thrived in the tourism industry, introducing new places and cultures to others. Leveraging this experience, Yuval now plays a vital role in demonstrating EnforceAir's capabilities to both existing and prospective customers and partners sharing insights, participating in system testing, and fostering a collaborative learning environment.

Subscribe to email updates

Sign up here to receive the latest news, upcoming events, webinars and industry best practice resources

Most popular publications

Our Bloggers

VIEW ALL >