Unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, have become increasingly popular here in the Unites States. According to an article published by the BostonGlobe, there are more than half a million drones registered with the federal government. Of course, there are probably tens of thousands more which are not registered.
The influx of new drones blanketing the city skies has spurred a newfound interest in ways to monitor these vehicles. If a drone comes into contact with a passenger jet, it could cause extensive, potentially critical damage. Furthermore, drones pose a risk to the public, as dozens of deaths have been attributed to them. In an effort to better track drones flying over U.S. skies, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has begun a new project.
Known as Aerial Dragnet, the project seeks to track, and subsequently counter, unmanned drones in city and urban areas. According to a DARPA spokesperson, the project is primarily intended to assist the U.S. military, but it will also be used stateside to protect the public. The ultimate goal of project Aerial Dragnet is to track drones that specifically fly below 1,000 feet in urban and city areas. Of course, these pose the biggest danger to public health, which is why the government wants to track them.
“Commercial websites currently exist that display in real time the tracks of relatively high and fast aircraft—from small general aviation planes to large airliners—all overlaid on geographical maps as they fly around the country and the world,” said Jeff Krolik, a DARPA program manager. “We want a similar capability for identifying and tracking slower, low-flying unmanned aerial systems, particularly in urban environments.”
As explained by Jeff Krolik, there are websites which currently provide real-time data on aircraft, showing exactly where they are in the skies. Unfortunately, there’s no such tracking solution available for drones — not yet, at least. DARPA is hoping to change that with its project Aerial Dragnet.
Of course, tracking low-flying drones is just one step in the process of dealing with them. The other step is neutralizing them. If an unregistered drone is identified, city officials need a way to bring to bring it down. There are a few possible solutions, one of which involves the use of lasers. The Dutch National Police have also come up with a new solution: hawks. The Dutch police are using trained hawks to literally strike and bring down drones in the skies.