Talk of “Counter Drone Technology” – Drones and their Global Effect

In the right hands, drones are tools that can detect forest fires and crimes in progress. They can be used to inspect structures such as pipe lines and bridges with a never tiring attention that would escape human scrutiny. They can deliver packages around the clock and take on tasks that are too dangerous for their human counterparts to undertake safely.

In the wrong hands, they can be tools that bring doom. Used as weapons of war they are merciless killers that have no regard for human life. As a terrorist tool they can be turned into flying explosives that will spread chaos, death and destruction. In some hands it could mean an end to a person’s privacy and rights at the hands of overzealous law enforcement and those bent on spying on others for the intent of identity theft or more nefarious reasons.

This darker possibilities of drone technology has worried many advocates of privacy and human rights watch groups and organizations. As drone technology advances and their capabilities expand, many worry about the repercussions of this in the wrong hands. Drones and their global effect are prompting some in the tech community to find and develop “Counter Drone technology” measures.

Drones and their Global Effect

It can’t be denied that drones have had a massive global effect. Possibly the most controversial effect has been the one that UAV’s have had on the modern battlefield.  UAV’s were first utilized in the late 70s and early 80s by the United States Navy as gun spotters for the 4 US Battleships in commission at the time.  They soon became the “eyes in skies” for US commanders in Europe and Korea. Eventually founding its way into Israeli defense services to scout out PLO and other enemy locations for tank and artillery work.

As technology advanced, these aerial reconnaissance drones become more than just short ranged aircraft for use in a particular battlefield of zone of influence. More high altitude flying drones could silently enter enemy airspace and carry out spy missions without detection. They also found use as guidance systems for laser guided munitions and other weapons.

Then came 9/11. The world was changed forever and in more ways than one. It not only became useful for these UAV’s to loiter over Afghanistan and eventually Iraq to detect enemy forces and identify targets, but eventually the United States military began deploying armed UAV Predator Drones to the equation. Ethical questions came into play as the United States over the following years would use armed drone missions over 10,000 times. The fact that many of these missions led to the deaths of innocent lives have caused some to question the ethical use of armed drones.

Away from the battlefield, drones have been used for other nefarious uses. Though Amazon is experimenting in the feasibility of drones as couriers for their warehouses, some have begun to use their delivery capabilities in far more sinister ways. Prison officials have reported that they have discovered and observed drones being used to ferry contraband to inmates. The small size and near silent abilities make these drones extremely hard to stop by prison guards.

UAV’s have crashed into the White House and even made an uninvited appearance at the residence of the Japanese Prime Minister. Drones can potentially be used to spy on sensitive government installations.  If highly secure government installations are not safe from the prying eyes of drones, then no individual citizen can expect to be safe from them.

Drones have also found uses in industrial espionage. Their small size means that no corporate trade secret is safe from a competitors eyes.

Privacy activists are worried about drones in the hands of overzealous law enforcement officials that may use drones in a way that strips citizens of their rights from unlawful search and seizure. Search warrants could be circumvented by dubious spying.  These tiny machines may also be used to obtain evidence that may incriminate a person in violation of their 5th Amendment rights.

Counter-Drone Technology

However, where there is a problem, there is also an enterprising individual who will find a way to counter the threat. International defense and intelligence agencies are working tirelessly to counter the security threats posed by drones. From Electro-magnetic pulse weapons, to better detection techniques, governments are searching for ways to protect themselves and their citizens from drones used in aggressive manners.

On the private sector side, an entire industry is beginning to emerge dedicated to detection and protection from drones being used in malicious ways. For example, prisons have begun to use detection equipment that latches onto a signal of the drone, no matter how small, and alerts guards to the incoming drone from as much as 150 feet away.

On an even more aggressive front some detection devices are being deployed that will either trace back the drone signal to its origin and even block that signal and force the drone to crash harmlessly or land so that it can be retrieved. Some have even used embed codes to infiltrate the drones signal and send maleware or spyware to the signal of origin disrupting the computer systems of the controller.

Some advocates and tech have pushed for technology capable of shooting down or destroying drones. Though in many cases this technology is still under development.  Some have resorted to used rifles and shotguns to apply a low tech solution to a high tech problem.

One such company at the forefront of counter-drone technology is the company Israel Aerospace Industries “IAI” which is working on a system called Drone Guard which can detect and disrupt drones right out of the sky.

Final Thoughts

Technology, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Drones and their global effect have made some question the viability of this emerging technology as a benefit to humanity. Drones, like all technology have their good uses and their bad uses. In the hands of those with good intentions, our lives could be forever enriched. In the wrong hands, our safety is questionable. As long as those that do evil have access to drones, counter drone technology will grow alongside drone technology.

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