You may have noticed that drones have been in the news lately - and by "lately" we mean more-or-less every day for the last several years. The mushrooming use of domestic UAVs and quadcopters is prompting big changes in society, technology and public policy.
Earlier this week, for instance, we heard about North Dakota lawmakers legalizing the use of police aerial drones weaponized with rubber bullets, tear gas and Tasers.
That came just days after authorities foiled a plot in Maryland to smuggle contraband - including drugs and a handgun - into a prison yard using a remote controlled quadcopter. Similar smuggling operations have been reported across the U.S. and around the world.
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It's clear that drones - an emerging blanket term referring to both military and civilian UAVs - are making waves. And in the marketplace, whenever there's an action, there's a reaction.
A European startup is now marketing a consumer anti-drone system that's designed to detect and report unmanned aircraft flying in a specified range of airspace. The company, Dedrone, is marketing the system to prisons, corporations, event planners - or anyone else concerned about unauthorized drones spying, smuggling or otherwise causing security concerns.
The system's hardware element is called the DroneTracker. Built into a weatherproof 16-inch platform, the device uses an array of sensors - including video cameras, acoustical sensors and near-infrared cameras - to watch the skies, day and night. Each DroneTracker can monitor a patch of airspace in a 120-degree arc of coverage out to a range of 100 meters.
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Dedrone, based in Kassel Germany with an office in Charleston, W. Va., also provides the software system, which uses a browser-based interface and cloud-based data storage. The DroneTracker is designed to be easily configured and deployed, so that users could set up a temporary drone detection perimeter at public events.
You can read more about the system at the Dedrone website, or check out this promotional video the company put out concerning the drone menace, which has the ominous tone and bombast of a civil defense PSA set five minutes into the future. Nothing wrong with a few scare tactics, right? Marketing!