The use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, for commercial and recreational purposes is becoming more common every day. As the technology advances, the cost becomes more accessible, allowing for increased emergence of hobbyist pilots. Drone Detection Systems (DDS) will become a reliable tool for restricted access areas, such as airports and military bases, to maintain their security and operational integrity.

Rapidly Advancing Technology

Advances in technology in the last few years have made drones small and easy enough for anyone to operate. The cost reduction has opened the market to everyday consumers, and the technology continues to improve. More drones in more areas poses a problem for secure sites.

The average hobbyist pilot may not be aware of the boundaries of restricted air space. This intrusion compromises the security of a site by permitting access to a drone whose operator may be far enough away to evade capture. Implementing a system capable of detecting drone intrusions will create more secure environments that are ready to handle the quick technological improvements that make drones difficult to combat.

Reactive or Proactive Measures?

In December 2018, a recreational drone equipped with a camera shut down Gatwick Airport in the UK for almost 2 days. The incident caused the cancellation of flights that affected 140,000 people and resulted in the loss of millions of dollars. Gatwick’s initial response shows that critical infrastructure may not be prepared for drone intrusions. Future-proofing your security system may be costly, but the price of being unprepared could be much higher.

Detection as Deterrence

Drone Detection Systems in the United States are limited by FAA regulations that classify drones as commercial aircraft, the same designation as passenger jetliners. In the US, companies cannot currently use drone response systems that damage or destroy the device. The only option for the time being is to detect the drone, and prevent it from leaving the area or breaching the security of the site further.

As the number of drone pilots grows, so too will the number of court cases brought against people using drones incorrectly or maliciously. A drone detection system is the first line of defense against malicious or careless use of drones because it allows the operators of the DDS to respond appropriately against drone intrusions.