According to New Atlas, there are many systems that use “good” drones to disrupt “enemy” drones, such as those on espionage missions. A new system takes a safer approach to this task, as captured drones do not simply crash to the ground.
In many existing drone-to-drone systems, the defending drone launches a net at the enemy drone. The latter drone’s propeller gets entangled in the net and stops spinning, causing the aircraft to crash to the ground. These drones may hit people or any cars, buildings, etc. when they land.
The European AUDROS (AUtonomous DROne System) project is developing a less risky alternative. In the current version of the system, an Eagle One octocopter (made by the Czech company Fly4Future) is based on a battery charging docking station (made by the Polish company Dronehub).
When an approaching enemy drone is detected, the Eagle One takes off autonomously, flies to the drone’s location, places itself above it, and then releases a line of suspended ropes that deploy from two folding booms at its base. The enemy drone’s propellers would be caught by these ropes as if they were caught in a net. However, with the ropes still attached to the Eagle One, the captured drone remains suspended below it until it lands.
It should be noted that in at least one existing UAV network system, the net stays connected to the defending drone via a tether after it is shot, so the captured drone does not fall directly to the ground. That said, because the Eagle One has two tethers for its boom, it can capture two drones per flight. In contrast, most net-shooting drones have only one net, so they must return to base after shooting down another drone.
The system was recently successfully tested in the Czech Republic, where the European AUDROS project team worked closely with the Czech prison service – one possible application of the technology is to prevent drones from being used to smuggle items into or out of prisons. In addition to Fly4Future and Dronehub, other partners in the AUDROS project include Czech companies BizGarden and GINA Software.