A net gun armed multicopter can hover indefinitely to ensure safe removal of unlicensed drones from the air.
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In recent years, the use of drones has skyrocketed. From people using consumer drones to take vacation pictures or spot sharks to farmers using them to scare away pests. The US Federal Aviation Administration estimates that 4.3 million hobbyist drones will be sold in 2020 alone. As the number of drones increase, so do questions about safety and privacy. Drones flying near planes or over sensitive power and military installations represent a serious risk. As a result, anti-drone products are growing almost as fast as drones.
Already on the market are early warning systems and radio-frequency jammers that prevent drones from flying, and new solutions are being sought all the time. The Dutch National Police have even tried to train birds of prey to attack and disable drones. Now, Delft Dynamics has developed the DroneCatcher – a drone that can net other drones in the sky. Delft’s DroneCatcher is an improved model to its previous with a quadcopter and detachable power tether. The tether allows the drone to hover indefinitely at altitude. When it detects a drone invading the target airspace, it detaches and pursues the invader on battery power. Once the captured drone is in range, the DroneCatcher deploys a pneumatic net gun to trap the target.
Additionally, the DroneCatcher’s automated targeting system uses on-board sensors, an image tracking camera and a laser rangefinder to spot its target. Its net gun can capture a target up to 20 meters (66 feet) away. Once fired, the net remains attached to the DroneCatcher by a cable, allowing the catcher to safely lower the captured drone to the ground. If it is too heavy, the cable can be released to allow the captured drone to parachute down. Applications include protecting airports and other sensitive installations, as well as stopping smuggling. Will drone catchers like this someday be as numerous as drones?