Growing Drone Industry Spawns a Growing Antidrone Industry
Drone sightings at London’s Gatwick Airport disrupted operations there for three days last December, and in January, rumored sightings near Newark [N.J.] Liberty International Airport delayed incoming air traffic temporarily. These incidents highlighted a growing problem with small drones: Miscreants, or just clueless operators, can make real trouble by flying these machines where they’re not allowed.
Rogue drones have been a long-standing worry for regulators, who have pursued a wide array of ideas to address the issue. Now, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is preparing a new report on the matter.
It’s not technically difficult to detect even a small drone with suitable radar equipment. “Almost all radars can detect a drone,” says Tom Driscoll, who is chief technical officer and a cofounder of Echodyne Co., a startup based in Kirkland, Wash., that is selling a radar system specifically tailored to detect small drones. The tricky part is distinguishing them from birds, which have about the same radar cross section. And for that, “the subtleties are important,” says Driscoll.