Meet the drone hunter
Pursuit craft lined up to intercept aerial drones
A new Drone Hunter that can chase down and identify unmanned aerial vehicles that breach restricted airspace has gone on display at GITEX Technology Week.
Engineers from the UAE-based tech firm Exponent said it can identify and chase down rogue recreational drones “within minutes” to limit the time of airport disruption.
Since 2015, Dubai has experienced three air space closures, in January 2015, June 2016 and September 2016. The longest was for 80 minutes and the shortest for 30 minutes, a General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) official said.
Maroun Hannoush, Commercial Manager at Exponent, said the closure in late September happened when a pilot spotted a drone at 2,000 feet from the cockpit.
He said it took the GCAA 30 minutes to deploy a helicopter, by which time the drone was gone.
He said: “The whole idea behind the Drone Hunter is that once the pilot confirms the location the hunter is ready to take off in three minutes at a speed of 110km per hour.”
He said the airports, and buildings like Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab, are among the sites that are ‘geo-fenced’ – protected by invisible software made by DJI, a consumer drone-maker.
But those systems can only detect and deactivate drones made by DJI, so a drone manufactured at home, or by a Chinese company, will not be recognised by the software, allowing it to breach the perimeter. Hannoush said: “The good news is that most of those consumer drones that are sold here on the market are DJI. It is very rare that people who will go and tinker around and change the programming. “There will be some drones that are home-built, and different types of Chinese drones, that are not regulated, but hopefully with the Drone Hunter we are able to spot those.”
The Drone Hunter’s function is to tag unidentified drones and take a close-up picture of the registration on the drone. It would then be reported to the authorities on the ground, added Danijel Jovanovic, UAV Manager at Exponent.
A GCAA official said the Hunter will be launched “to minimise the closure duration of airports by drones” in 2017-2018, after the project has met their requirements and.
INTERCEPTOR: The Drone Hunter on display at GITEX