Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be defended by drone-catching drones
Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be defended by drone-catching drones

Pyeongchang Winter Olympics to be defended by drone-catching drones

Authorities in South Korea are preparing to defend the Winter Olympics, to be held in Pyeongchang later this month, from drone-related terror attacks. 

What goes up must come down, so it’s no surprise that a counter-drone industry is emerging, dedicated to bringing rogue pilots down to earth with a bump.

The rise of readily available flying robots was always going to represent a safety risk. That risk is now more pronounced than ever; many consumer-level drones are capable of operating even while the pilot is sat miles away.

There are plenty of methods available for authorities keen to prevent drones from flying where they shouldn’t. Some are wacky rather than practical, like the Dutch police’s brief experiment training eagles to bring down quadcopters. Others are more sophisticated, attempting to track, jam, hack or spoof the drone in question into heading back where it came from or hovering in place.

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The Winter Olympics’ aerial anti-terrorism measures

It appears as though South Korean officials will deploy a range of counter-drone measures at next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

The most notable is the inclusion of a drone-catching drone, which will use a net to entangle nefarious drones and carry them safely away from the action.

The surrounding skies above the Olympic venues in Pyeongchang, Gangneung and Jeongseon have been classified as no-fly zones for the duration of the games. Should an authorized drone enter that airspace, South Korean officials have prepared a detection radar in partnership with the Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology (KAIST).

Signal-jamming guns will be fired towards the drones in question, which could result in immobilization, causing them to fall from the sky, return to their pilot or simply hover. That’s where the addition of drone-catching drones might come in handy.

Failing all of those measures, special forces agents have been busy rehearsing scenarios and will be ready to shoot down anything they don’t like the look of.

Read more: US Army grounds DJI drones over ‘cyber vulnerabilities’

Justified concerns

Fortunately, there hasn’t yet been an incident at a public event in which an off-the-shelf drone has been weaponized and used as part of a terrorist attack.

The high-profile stories involving drones disrupting sporting events, for example, tend to be the result of overzealous aerial photographers with no malicious intent. But reports have emerged from Syria and Iraq showing how such actions are both plausible and potentially lethal.

Authorities the world over are aiming to stay one step ahead and have countermeasures in place before the threat is realized.

Australian anti-drone company DroneShield has this week launched a new, smaller tool, the DroneGun Tactical.

The DroneGun Tactical works in a similar way to the company’s previous models. It aims to jam incoming drones with frequencies that will trigger the return to home function, leading authorities back to the pilot in the process.

The DroneGun Tactical is smaller than the previous anti-drone model, but is capable of jamming a wider range of frequencies.

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