Online technology industry news publisher TechCrunch reported this week that San Francisco-based startup company Dedrone, whose technology “detects drones and helps prevent unwanted aerial intrusions . . . [,] has closed a $15 million Series B round of venture funding.”
Drone usage in the private and public sector has obviously grown exponentially for several years. Drones are flown on your street by the neighbor’s kid and by law enforcement and military to protect our nation. The article cites to the FAA, which expects sales of drones to spike domestically from 2.5 million last year to 7 million by 2020. Now, this startup with its technology brings to center stage not only how much usage is enough but also what methods can be used “to detect prying eyes in the sky.”
Dedrone’s website states that to “secure your airspace now,” it “provides an automatic, integrated and self-contained drone detection, identification and counter-measures platform to defeat drone threats and their operators 24/7. DroneTracker is the only modular system on the market that can be adapted to your specific threat situation and the special conditions on-site.”
According to the article, Dedrone works with physical security companies to set up sensors, cameras and RF scanners on the ground and rooftops at airports, data centers, sports stadiums and homes of high net-worth individuals and politicians. While DroneTracker has been on the market for one year, Dedrone has installed over 200 packages.
While company CEO Jörg Lamprecht is quoted listing the utility of drones, he was careful to note that “drones carry the risk of aerial espionage, contraband or drug smuggling across borders and amateur accidents.” Not surprisingly, the website has a scrolling banner of news stories of near misses with planes, prison contraband drops and terrorists arming drones.
Dedrone can set up permanent protection for a company or individual or temporary protection for major events at a specific location. The website mentions protecting the Davos World Economic Summit, two presidential debates and a German soccer venue.
The major investor in Dedrone is quoted in the article stating that his “firm backed Dedrone because of its ability not just to spot drones in the sky, but [also to] precisely locate a drone’s operator on the ground, enabling a wide range of so-called ‘counter measures’ to deal with unwanted drones.” This is useful because instead of simply “shooting a drone out of the sky,” potentially causing damage and injury on the ground, you can identify and communicate with the pilot.
According to the CEO, Dedrone will use the funding, “primarily to bring its existing technology to more businesses and government offices, with a special focus on companies operating data centers.” The focus on data centers is due to their vulnerability. “Most have a rooftop installation with cooling elements. If a drone crashes into this, you can break down a whole data center in seconds. That’s with a $500 commercial drone flown by an amateur, or in a deliberate attack. They have had guards with machine guns on the ground, but now they need to watch the skies.”
As fascinating as this new counter-drone technology is, we can be sure that technology is being developed to bypass detection and to protect the location of the pilot. This in turn will produce better technology to counter those advances. And we can be sure that this will bring additional drone and counter-drone regulations as agencies try to keep up with this technology.