Last updated: 03:39 PM ET, Thu June 02 2016

FAA To Test British Anti-Drone System at US Airports

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | June 02, 2016

FAA To Test British Anti-Drone System at US Airports

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The FAA will soon start testing the Anti-UAV Defense System (AUDS), which is a new system from Great Britain that could end the problem of drones flying in airspace meant for commercial flights. 

On a very basic level, AUDS works by detecting drones in restricted airspace and then jamming them with a radio signal. Once jammed, the drone will become unresponsive and the pilot will have no control over it. 

More accuracy

Currently, special multidirectional radio jamming systems work to prevent drones from flying in certain areas. However, these first-generation anti-drone setups have significant drawbacks. Most of all, they cannot be focused. This means that anything else in the area that relies on radio waves, such as cell phones or Wi-Fi connections, will also be rendered useless. 

READ MORE: Will Airports Soon Be Fighting Back Against Drones?

AUDS is a much more specialized device. The idea is that drones use very specific radio frequencies, so it only takes a short, but powerful, radio wave burst to confuse the unmanned craft so that it can no longer communicate with its operator. 

AUDS uses thermal imaging cameras to detect and track drones. The person operating the AUDS can then target the drone and hit it with the necessary radio waves to knock it out of the sky. The device currently has a range of about six miles.

Several prongs on the end of the AUDS device help to direct the radio wave pulse at the target so that it does not interfere with other devices in the area that rely on radio signals.  

READ MORE: British Airways Plane Likely Hit By Drone

FAA to test AUDS device at unnamed airports

The FAA has announced the start of tests at airports in the United States, but it has not said which airports will be part of the trials.

There is an urgency to the tests. The FAA has said that a number of drones have been spotted inside or near restricted airspace. There are concerns that an unsuspecting hobbyist’s drone could strike a passenger plane, but the FAA and security agencies are also worried that terrorists could use an unmanned aircraft to strike a jet on purpose.    

Three separate British companies, Enterprise Control Systems, Blighter Surveillance Systems and Chess Dynamics, provided designs and components for the system. Two U.S.-based firms, Gryphon Sensors LLC and Sensofusion, will also be involved in development, and the AUDS devices will be distributed by Colorado-based Liteye Systems. 

A growing industry

The Department of Homeland Security will also reportedly be involved in the testing phase of this system. AUDS is one of the most promising options in the new field of anti-drone systems, but there are other options as well. Some basic devices could even soon be available to the general public as well.  

France will reportedly deploy anti-drone systems around stadiums during the upcoming Euro 2016 soccer tournament to protect against the possibility of a terrorist attack. 

It appears that anti-drone technology is developing rapidly. Because of its accuracy, the AUDS system is one of the most promising options yet.  

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