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Anti-Drone Counter-measures
3361 7 2019-12-21
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Drone 'counter-measures' can range from an angry farmer with a shotgun, to a soldier with a Batelle anti-drone 'rifle' (which jams drone control frequencies). Police now have net-launching weapons, which can launch a net to cover (and crash) your drone. The anti-drone measures can be electronic (jamming the telemetry, command, and control circuits), or laser-based (high-powered lasers that can 'blind' your drone's visual sensor(s). Sometimes it can be as simple as an angry guy at the beach with a towel, swatting your drone out of the air.
Some measures are directed at the drone, and some at the drone operator. The measures directed at the operator can result in personal physical injury, and the ones against the drone can result in loss of an expensive drone. Either way, it's serious business. Having an emergency plan that anticipates such eventualities is a decent counter-measure in itself.

To protect yourself and your drone, some drone counter-counter-measures (DCCM) are in order. Since most of us do not fly drones with protection against lasers and anti-drone weapons, nor do we fly drones with an active ECCM (Electronic Counter-couintermeasures) capability, our best line of defense is...common sense.

Just as beginning martial artists are taught the best way to win a fight is not to get in one, so we as drone pilots must realize the best way to avoid drone counter-measures is to avoid them. This plays out in a few simple strategies:

1) Distance and space make a good defense. It's hard to hit what you can't reach. Drones at lower altitudes are more susceptible to counter-measures. If you keep your altitude above the easy reach of passersby, you increase your chances of avoiding (or surviving) drone counter-measures...attacks against your drone. Likewise, distance away from possible sources of attack help avoid such occurences, as well.

2) Just don't be there. Avoiding areas where drone attacks are likely to occur is perhaps the best defense. Simply don't fly in areas where chance of anti-drone measures are likely to occur. Avoid flying over large groups of people. Don't fly near restricted areas, or directly over private residences. Remember, they can't hit what's not there...

3) Before flying, evaluate the area for dangers. Performing a site survey before flying can help identify potential sources fo conflict, or of danger to your drone or yourself. Don't just rely on B4UFly; look for other sources of potential problems before you even take off. If you notice any questionable or doubtful issues, maybe choose another place (or time) to fly.  


4) Become aware of anti-drone device capabilities. Knowing what anti-drone devices are available (and their capabilities) can help you avoid negative effects if you do encounter them. Knowing the range of such devices is key. Operating frequencies (or wavelengths) can also help. Knowledge is power.

5) Know why someone might want to 'take your drone down.' Understanding personnel who would want to use ADM (anti-drone measures) against you, and their motivations for doing so, can help avoid problems. Is there a rabid anti-droner in your neighborhood (or intended flight area)? Does your city have quasi-legal or extra-legal ordinances that might incite the police to stop your drone? Is the area you want to fly guarded by security forces who might feel compelled to use ADM against you? Know your potential opponent. Again, knowledge is power.

6) Use technology if you can. Red lens covers can prevent against high-powered blue lasers. Narrow beam-width control transceivers are a bit more resistant. While there are no current ADCM (Anti-drone counter-measures) devices sold commercially, staying on top of new technological developments may help you discover ways you can make your drone more robust against any ADM measures you might encounter.

7) A good defense does NOT mean a good offense. Arming your drone with a 9mm pistol or a high-powered laser is not a good defense (and is quite likely a felony). Avoid using your drone or yourself to retaliate or counter-attack; that will just make sure YOU are the one going to jail, and not the person messing with your drone. I know it's tempting to arm your drone with 'innocent', non-lethal defenses such as bear spray, but you're treading a slippery slope if you do. That slope might just lead to jail...

8) Secure your flight area. Having a visual flight observer (VFO) as part of your flight crew can help avoid attacks on the ground-control segment of your flight system. Sometimes a few well-placed cones can keep people away, while other times more strong measures might need to be taken. Either way, make sure your VFO is level-headed, calm in a crisis, capable, and someone who has a history of making good decisions under stressful circumstances. After all, you count heavily on your VFO; you are busy flying the drone, while THEY are the ones most likely to handle local (flight/landing area) issues.

9) Is your drone worth fighting over? It may seem that way, but in the end, is risking your freedom or health worht it if your drone is attacked? Sometimes the best defense is not countering their force, butr merely documenting their actions. Record attacks from a safe place; they may get your drone but you'll have the evidence (and a chance to get your drone replaced, if damaged).

10) Don't worry, be happy. A little preparation and planning can avoid most potential incidents. After that, just don't worry and have fun flying. After all, the drone wars have not started yet.

Hope you enjoyed this. I'd be interested in hearing about practical drone-protection methods, if you would like to add to the thread. I'm submitting this as mainly a 'straw-man', to get things going. Happy flying, and see you out there in the skies!

(C) 2019 Mark Mullen, Mullen Enterprizes
2019-12-21
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DJI Paladin
Super Moderator
Flight distance : 318 ft

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Hi. Thank you for sharing this informative insights. This will be a very helpful tips to our valued DJI co pilots to keep themselves and the drone safe. Thank you for your valued insights and support.
2019-12-24
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BRQ7O
lvl.2
Flight distance : 57884 ft
United States
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Common sense is the best counter measure, that is for sure. I was about to fly in a park, but when I arrive I saw that it was full of a kind of ducks, so I decide to give a good look at that park and avoid any contact with the nature of that animals, I am happy with my decision.
2020-1-12
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Chickenhawk
lvl.2
Flight distance : 240545 ft

United States
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BRQ7O Posted at 1-12 10:24
Common sense is the best counter measure, that is for sure. I was about to fly in a park, but when I arrive I saw that it was full of a kind of ducks, so I decide to give a good look at that park and avoid any contact with the nature of that animals, I am happy with my decision.

It’s good to be reminded that not everyone wants to see your drone flying around and unfortunately too many operators don’t think about their flights they way they should...thanks for posting and reminding
2020-1-24
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Martyzion
Second Officer
Flight distance : 811348 ft

United States
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Thanks for this.  A good example for point #2 is the guy with the beach towel.   Beaches seem particularly prone to privacy-invading fly-bys
2020-9-7
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A J
Captain
Flight distance : 13838848 ft
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United Kingdom
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Thanks for sharing
2020-9-8
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R.Bovensiep
lvl.2
Flight distance : 189803 ft
United States
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Thanks. No video is worth my drone or ending up in jail becasue I was flying where I should not be.
2020-9-24
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Ruzhye
lvl.4
Flight distance : 483937 ft
United States
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A lot of thought went into this, thanks for posting it.
2020-10-24
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