UK prison deploys active anti-drone countermeasures to fight contraband smuggling

A UK weapons company called Drone Defence has sold an anti-drone product to Les Nicolles prison on Guernsey that will use 20 nonspecific "disruptors" to do something to drones that will stop them from overflying the prison and smuggling in contraband.

There is very little detail on how this "Sky Fence" product works. This very thin spec-sheet for a seemingly related product from the company intimates that it uses some kind of RF jamming to prevent drone operators from contacting their drones, and also jams GPS frequencies that might let drones fly on their own.

I can imagine how this could be somewhat effective. A drone designed to land when it loses contact with its base-station could be forced into a landing through an RF-jamming denial of service, and such a countermeasure might pass frequency-utilisation regulations if it were well-behaved (for example, if it were narrowly transmitted with a phased array antenna to minimise jamming of other users of the band). But disrupting GPS signals is a lot more troubling/problematic, as this has the potential to seriously mess up a lot of legitimate activity and what's more, the band that GPS operates in is a lot more tightly regulated that the shared-use bands used for drone control.

Most telling is the thinness of the technical detail on the vendor's site, a strong signal of hand-waving rubbish deployed in place of technical rigour, then backstopped by claims that if the countermeasures were fully described, they could be circumvented — security through obscurity is neither.

Founder and CEO Richard Gill said: "It disrupts the control network between the flyer and the drone. The drone then activates return to home mode and it will then fly back to the position where it had signal with its flyer.

"Someone described it as the final piece in a prison's security puzzle. I think it could have a significant worldwide impact."

Mr Gill said the technology is perfectly safe and does not "hack" or damage the drones. It is relatively cheap to install and, depending on the size of the prison, costs range from £100,000 to £250,000.

Eclipse managing director Alan Drinkwater said they had modified existing technology to create Sky Fence.

British prison is first to use 'disruptor' to create drone-proof 'shield' around jail [Telegraph]

(via Marginal Revolution)