- In a recent experiment, three drones suffered communications glitches, three had sensor problems and one had a power malfunction during the microwave test
Drones are increasingly being used across different sectors. They provide quick ready to use imagery and can reach places where humans cannot reach.
In recent times, there have been many cases where drones have risked people’s lives and have breached safety and security. This has led to the evolution of counter-drone technology. Also known as counter-UAS, C-UAS, or counter-UAV technology, it is a system that is specifically designed to track and intercept drones.
Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) is a part of the Defence Ministry of Japan. The agency is claimed to develop a new device that uses microwaves to zap drones. ATLA used seven commercially available drones for the experiment. According to the agency, this device can shot a drone from a distance of up to 10 metres.
The device is basically a ‘ high-power microwave generation system’ . This device is capable of doing severe damage to the drones which do no follow Drone regulations. It is also used in the detection of unmanned aerial vehicles. The system sweeps a microwave beam of 45 degrees in left to right direction. This allows it to quickly switch targets with no mechanical adjustments. For a successful drone jamming system, user has to accommodate at least four units to produce meaningful output results.
For the experiment, a total of seven drones were kept in a closed room. This room was shielded from ambient radio waves. Each drone hovered 10 meters away and 2.5 meters above the microwave generator. All seven failed or became uncontrollable immediately after being hit by the microwave beam.
As a result, three suffered communications glitches, three had sensor problems and one had a power malfunction. This happened because the drones need to communicate with their operators and satellite navigation systems. They rely on sensors to maintain stable flights. With the exposure of the microwave beam, it was difficult for the vehicles to establish RF communication networks.
None of the seven drones suffered more serious damage, such as burned circuits. A recent statement from ATLA said,
“If a drone can resist an immediate fall, its electronic circuitry may be burned out due to long exposure to microwaves. But all drones went down before such a consequence,”.
Other defences against drone strikes are in the development phase. These methods such as jamming signals can render the aircraft uncontrollable. Another method is to damage them or knock out their electronics with a high-powered laser. This, as a result, can cause huge financial losses to the owner of the drone. Hence, the use of microwave systems to shut their radio communications is a much reliable option for counter UAV systems.