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Communications Hardware Hacking Toys

Point-And-Shoot Weapon Stops Drones Without Destroying Them 116

An anonymous reader writes: Unmanned aerial vehicles — so-called drones — can be helpful, malicious, or simply disruptive, depending on the intentions of those who use them. But while regular folks have to be worried about law suits if they shoot one down, law enforcement officers have a better solution, and one that's currently legal (for them): stop one mid-flight. This can be achieved with DroneDefender, a recently made available "gun" that uses radio control frequency disruption technologies to safely stop drones in the air, before they can pose a threat to military or civilian safety.
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Point-And-Shoot Weapon Stops Drones Without Destroying Them

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  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @11:41AM (#50749635)

    This will work until the drones are equipped with some rudimentary autonomous controls that will take over when the control signal is lost.

    It'll just follow its "panic-mode" programming and fly a direct course back to its origin, or loiter far enough away to be out of range of the hostile jamming.

    • "Return to Base" is still a mission kill from a police perspective. As long as it's not taking embarrassing videos, whatever else it does is fine.
      • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @12:02PM (#50749741)

        "Return to Base" is still a mission kill from a police perspective. As long as it's not taking embarrassing videos, whatever else it does is fine.

        Then drones will eventually be hardened, use frequency-hopping or burst communication, have longer range optic capabilities, fly at higher altitudes and be stealthier, etc etc. They'll be fixed up to drop remote transmitters, drop cameras into nearby trees and onto nearby buildings, and lots of other tricks.

        I'm not sure the authorities can win this one (although I'm sure they'll try).

        • by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @12:19PM (#50749815)

          I'd agree with your assessment regarding military drones, but probably not for civilian types. The technology will only escalate if the participants are actively trying to defeat those defensive mechanisms. Why would most drones or their operators care about that, since they likely have no intention of doing anything that would get them in trouble with law enforcement in the first place?

          Besides, if the drone defeats the radio-based approach, law enforcement (or military) will simply resort to the "flying lead" approach. There's not a lot of defensive measures you can take against a well aimed shotgun - presumably the gun of choice for forcefully removing drones from the air.

          • There's not a lot of defensive measures you can take against a well aimed shotgun - presumably the gun of choice for forcefully removing drones from the air.

            Sure there is... altitude...

            Shotguns are not useful against a drone at 1,000ft above the ground...

            • Heh, good point. Also, it somehow seems appropriate for you to point the obvious flaw in my statement.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by countach ( 534280 )

            They will care about that because my guess is it won't be just law enforcement which starts having these guns. Script kiddies with nothing to do will be making them and attacking drones.

          • Firing a shotgun up into the air... not sayin' your local deputy won't try it, once.

            • I'm not quite sure what you're implying... that it's dangerous to do that? Assuming you're not firing solid slugs or heavy buckshot, it's reasonably safe to fire a shotgun into the air. Birdshot raining back down retains little of it's kinetic energy.

              • Even birdshot raining back down, with bits of shredded quadcopter (including flaming Lithium battery), isn't going to get him the citizens' safety award for the month.

                • And this is a problem because ... ?
                  • Because: employed by politicians... ultimately they answer to people who answer to the voters. Might kill a baby or something, can't have that if an election is coming up.

          • Im unlikely to have my network invaded by a 3 letter agency, i still harden against it.
        • by unrtst ( 777550 )

          ... They'll be fixed up to drop remote transmitters, drop cameras into nearby trees and onto nearby buildings, and lots of other tricks.

          Techniques like those are not what the majority of folks would do (and I'm skeptical that would help much at all).

          This thing looks like it *will* work for all the stupid people that unbox and start flying shit where they're not allowed.
          Old school RC pilots are already used to following the rules (or being very careful not to get caught), so they're not the targets here.
          Military use aren't going to be using DJI Phantom's and off the shelf radios. I doubt they're on the same public frequencies, and they're a

        • by warlow ( 1928922 )

          Then drones will eventually be hardened, use frequency-hopping or burst communication, have longer range optic capabilities, fly at higher altitudes and be stealthier, etc etc. They'll be fixed up to drop remote transmitters, drop cameras into nearby trees and onto nearby buildings, and lots of other tricks.

          I'm not sure the authorities can win this one (although I'm sure they'll try).

          +1. Also I wouldn't consider it a stretch to believe including anti-jamming to be the next stretch target for the groups producing the solutions to the existing struggles with conflicting signals with multiple flyers in the air. I see this as effectively the same problem caused by less sophisticated radio signals. Side note, I'm doubtful whether jamming a GPS would allow most devices to fly home as stated, as I believe most devices fly-home via GPS unless there's some sort of visual indicator of their des

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It would be quite simple to make a zapper powerful enough to blow the drone radio antenna input. No controls, maybe no GPS if the antenna is shared.

  • This can be achieved with DroneDefender, a recently made available "gun" that uses radio control frequency disruption technologies to safely stop drones in the air, before they can pose a threat to military or civilian safety.

    Or, most importantly, record police doing things that could make for bad PR.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @11:44AM (#50749661)
    Shooting high intensity RF through a pointable device? One that could also be pointed at, oh I dunno, that annoying a-hole talking too loud on his phone? Or that cop chasing you for whatever reason?

    Not to mention the hazards of having 20 lb of plastic and steel falling several feet out of the sky onto who knows what?

    Prolly won't work for a lot of them anyway, if they lose signal they're programmed to head home.

    I see fail in a lot of different areas on this one.
    • Not to mention the hazards of having 20 lb of plastic and steel falling several feet out of the sky onto who knows what?

      Well, as a long-time RC pilot, I see the problem with cheap drones as a "loose nut behind the control." Serious RC folks don't fly over other folks backyards to annoy them. They fly is specially designated areas, or places where no other folks are hanging around.

      When one of these "drone pilots" flies his cheap drone into a kid's face and turn in into hamburger meet . . . well, the rest of us will suffer from new laws. As soon as the "Sleeping Giants" of lawyers wake up to this potential, there will be l

      • by lgw ( 121541 )

        I doubt responsible RC flying will be affected. When you're already following incredibly liability-paranoid rules, you're doing what the lawmakers may eventually force on others: no safety hazard, no privacy concerns, and most importantly, no embarrassing videos of police.

        • You assume that laws are sensible. This is what I envision happening:
          1. There will be an Incident. I don't know what the Incident will be, but it will involve a drone operator doing something stupid. Perhaps someone will crash a drone into an aircraft on takeoff, or fly one into a school-bus and cause it to swerve off a bridge. But someone will be stupid, and people will die.
          2. Panic, outrage, Something Must Be Done.
          3. A strict law will be passed that tightly regulates the use of any radio-controlled aircra

      • by unrtst ( 777550 )

        We will be happy if we can fly a paper plane in our own backyard anymore.

        Yeah, these may be covered by any "drone" legislation as well:
        http://www.amazon.com/PowerUp-... [amazon.com]
        (they also have a FPV one going up on kickstarter in 24 days)

      • The only difference between your RC aircraft and a drone is the skill required by the operator. RC planes and helicopters have a natural filter: You have to be pretty serious to put in the practice hours. A drone can be out the box and in the air in ten minutes, no practice required. The technology beyond that is basically the same: Fans spin, air goes down, craft goes up.

        • The technology beyond that is basically the same: Fans spin, air goes down, craft goes up . . .

          . . . "brain of the pilot turns off".

          I think these drone pilots need to ask themselves one simple question: Would you want someone you don't know buzzing their drone in your private backyard" . . . ? The technology of drones is not the problem . . . it's the common manners and respect of certain pilots that is the problem.

          I'll take a wild "Leap to Faith", my apologies to Søren Kierkegaard, who probably didn't say that at all, but it is the same problem with guns in the US. A lot of gun folks in

    • Not to mention the hazards of having 20 lb of plastic and steel falling several feet out of the sky onto who knows what?Â

      If it weighs 20 lbs., then it probably has autonomous features and won't simply fall out of the sky.

      Prolly won't work for a lot of them anyway, if they lose signal they're programmed to head home.Â

      Which means it will not fall out of the sky. Since this is law enforcement, the drone will lead them straight to the operator. I'm not sure what you think the problem is.

      • That would rather assume that the cops could follow the drone. The drone having complete freedom of movement and the cops generally having to stick to roads. Or at least be hampered by walls and fences.

        If the operator is in the same open park as the cops, then yes, he'll be caught. But in an urban environment, not necessarily. And probably not it he actually intends mischief.

    • The video is a simulation. The device does not work as advertised. And without shielding, it's blowing RF back at the operator also. Very much a scam.

      • Indeed. They've bolted the device to the front of a military looking gun body, to imply that works like a gun. But in reality it'll be leaking jamming radio in most directions and many frequencies.

        • 2.4GHz isn't hard to aim. I'm guessing the bit on the front houses a yagi array - it's about as directional as any any antenna other than a parabolic can be.

          The higher the frequency, the more 'light-like' radio gets. Easier to aim, harder to penetrate.

  • might work on other things, too.
  • FTA:
    "It does so by either disrupting remote control or GPS navigation."

    By the looks of the device, it has a 2.4GHz yagi antenna, which would mean that it simply saturates the device with a 2.4GHz signal. What about drones flying spread spectrum 480MHz, or even 5.8GHz? And that antenna won't cover the GPS frequencies, either.

    Face it, this is simply a tool to stop DJI Phantom drones and similar products. Nothing to see here.

    • So you get 90% of the drones out there. Not a bad first pass,

      I'd like to see it's FCC approval certificate. Even police cannot just jam radio waves. You have to be more important than that.

    • What about drones that are flying a programmed route and have some kind of IMU capability that isn't 100% GPS dependent?

      Keep the disruptor trained on it long enough and you'll eventually get it lost due to IMU drift - but all that cutting off comms really does is cut the operator's ability to adapt their flight pattern, like, complying with a bullhorn command to return to base.

    • You could fit additional transmitters - but how many drones have that sort of capability? There's no reason for civilian drones to be hardened against electronic warfare to that degree.

    • by Agripa ( 139780 )

      By the looks of the device, it has a 2.4GHz yagi antenna, which would mean that it simply saturates the device with a 2.4GHz signal. What about drones flying spread spectrum 480MHz, or even 5.8GHz? And that antenna won't cover the GPS frequencies, either.

      I see two antennas there and the lower one looks like a log-periodic antenna to perhaps cover the two lower ISM bands and GPS. I assume then that the upper antenna is for 5 GHz.

  • * Police block remote-control of a legally-operated drone.
    * Drone falls to earth and crashes
    * Drone destroyed
    * 3rd parties suffer injury or property loss due to impact

    Who is financially liable for the drone's destruction?

    Who is financially liable for the damages to 3rd parties?

    On the other hand, if the drone is on a mission of wanton destruction and the police know it and fail to shoot it down because they fear civil liability, people will be in an uproar.

    But what if the police either sincerely but falsely

    • by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday October 17, 2015 @01:14PM (#50750039)

      Police liable for anything?

      Lets be honest, this is America where police aren't liable for flash bangs.

    • That's easy. The drone owner is liable. He's the only one that can be liable in this scenario and in this world.

      • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        That's easy. The drone owner is liable. He's the only one that can be liable in this scenario and in this world.

        Yes. According to Slashdot, drone owners are EVIL TERRISTS.

        You'd almost think people here would appreciate new technologies, not want to regulate them to death. But I guess that's what happens when SJWs take over. If there's one thing they can't stand, it's change.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Yeah well, that's what happens when you use a public space. Like road rules, or air traffic rules, or use of the spectrum. If people didn't automatically go and do the stupidest fucking thing with these technologies at the first opportunity, it wouldn't be necessary.

          • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

            Yeah well, that's what happens when you use a public space. Like road rules, or air traffic rules, or use of the spectrum. If people didn't automatically go and do the stupidest fucking thing with these technologies at the first opportunity, it wouldn't be necessary.

            I rest my case.

        • I didn't say that I think this is how it should be. Only that it is how it will be.

          Who else do you think would be liable? And please, don't say "the police that shot down the drone that would otherwise not have caused any damage". Please. How long have you been living here to still assume they could remotely be liable for any damage they cause?

        • Stop inventing your own narratives. There has been precisely zero people arguing against drones here based on social justice arguments.

          Precious few arguing against drones at all.

          If there's one thing they can't stand, it's change.

          You seem to have confused SJWs with conservatives. SJWs positively want change. They just don't want regressive changes. Drones aren't a regressive thing. It's conservatives that don't like change on principle; because they fear it.

          • SJWs and social conservatives are political opposites. They are both idiots, because they both adopt extreme positions without proper justification. But they are very different sorts of idiots, and neither of them has had anything much to say about drones at all.

  • There is a complete unknown as to what the drone will do when it loses it's control signal. Some are configurable: Return to home, stay in place, land in place, fly to a pre-defined destination, and that's assuming anything is set at all and it won't fall out of the sky and crash.

    Then there's a question of if the drone is actually capable of autonomous flight at all at the current time. I had a problem with the inertial control system and compass on my drone on one flight. It went crazy and started flying o

    • by stnt ( 730547 )
      Same thing happened to me : On a drone controlled by a Naza -V1, I was hovering stationnary, slowly spinning to take a panorama. The drone started to drift faster and faster. Switching to manual didn't help . Swithing the transmitter off to activate RTH did'nt either. Can you elaborate on what happened in your case ? These fly aways are a bit of a mistery, and I don't feel very safe flying until I find the root cause of them..
      • I bit for forum trolling pointed me towards a sudden loss of compass or a sudden loss of inertial navigation causes massive problems if the firmware doesn't take it into account. GPS less so because it's easy to detect a loss of GPS and fallback. In my case I was using APM:Copter on a home made drone. I was flying using alt-hold mode (completely manual but uses barometer for altitude control and stick position to indicate go up or go down). When I flicked to GPS-Hold to stay in place and take a picture it h

        • by stnt ( 730547 )
          Thanks for sharing the details . I think it points to a simple problem : code it not certified for flying, so it may crash.. I worked some time as a subcontractor for Airbus (Yes I'm French near Cannes), and 90% of the effort was spent on code certification ,with proven tools, and so on. I've seen a professional drone pilot who carried an exepnsive € 5 000 IR camera . He simpy had 2x NAZAs controllers, could switch from one to another inflight using a second RC transmitter in the 868 MHz ISM band. M
          • Not for a go-pro that's for sure. Youtube shows some truly spectacular crashes and one common thing is that a go-pro often survives them. A better camera on the other hand, or a part of the airframe carrying power / signalling can get quite expensive quite quickly.

  • See https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

    Even the old Ronco "Pocket Fisherman", an old staple of late night television advertising, could do an effective task against most drones at moderate range.

  • From the youtube link:

    this is a simulation of our DroneDefender.

  • I've been wondering when we'd start hearing about homemade HERF guns being used for this, but those would be a lot more likely to do actual damage I suspect.

    Both this device and any theoretical HERF gun would also be potentially troublesome in the most common off-limits areas which are around airports. I'd hate to seem something like this used to take down a troublesome drone and inadvertently swamp local radar coverage.
  • Most drones/RCs are controlled with the 430 or 480 MHz band. 2.4/5.8 is typically for data uplink for video and such.

    Only idiot companies (like Phantom who put all of their crap in the microwave bands) will have their product affected by this device (or not given 1W is the maximum allowed transmission power feed to the antenna in the FCC rule book for these frequency ranges, and I'll bet this thing goes way over that so the FCC will say "No, you can't do this.")

    To boot, it's illegal to advertise jamming dev

    • Maybe the *good* drones. Most of the consumer kit runs at 2.4GHz for a very simple reason: It means the controller can be an app on a mobile phone or tablet. The drone acts like an access point. Cheaper than having to ship a dedicated control device!

  • ...it's the rapid deceleration event upon encounter with the ground that does it.

  • HERF pulse guns have been around on sites like this [amazing1.com] for a long time now. DroneDefender haven't exactly invented anything new, they have just repackaged in a format more palatable to Law Enforcement and Military.
  • If I let it drop out of the sky onto the pavement, it's effectively destroyed. It wouldn't make much difference to me if someone blasted it with buckshot or not, as I have a lot of broken stuff to replace.

  • After it's disabled we can repurpose it to, say, drive a combine.

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