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1 December 2016

Deutsche Telekom goes on the offensive with anti-drone platform

Potentially still reeling from the Mirai attack that RIoT reported on earlier this week, Deutsche Telekom has unveiled its new Magenta drone defense shield platform. Aimed at providing all the tools needed to keep drones away from sensitive assets, DT is already rolling it out on some of its internal business group locations.

The Magenta drone defense shield, developed by Dedrone, offers data collection and surveillance to help spot potentially offensive drones, as well as an RF jamming feature to help remove the threat – forcing the drone to land or potentially knocking it out of the air entirely via electronic counter measures (ECM), and collecting evidence that could be used in prosecutions.

However, RF jamming requires regulator approval, and these government bodies are likely to be rather reluctant to hand out jamming licenses and exemptions to anyone not running infrastructure that’s critical to public wellbeing. DT says its first customers will be in-house divisions, with installations taking place in the coming weeks, but data centers, utilities, air ports, local authorities, and stadiums have been named as likely customers.

Dedrone, based in the German town of Kassel, will be providing its DroneTracker software and hardware platform, which hunts for drones using microphones, video scanners, and frequency scanners – applying some AI-based techniques for pattern analysis and recognition. The company says its software is able to reliably find drones while ignoring other aerial residents (birds, helicopters, etc), and is available in a modular package depending on what its customers need.

Other partners for Magenta drone defense shield include Rhode & Schwarz (frequency scanner), Squarehead (microphone arrays), Robin Radar Systems (radar), and HP Wust (the RF jammer), but Dedrone offers a fairly extensive collection of hardware itself.

There are a number of anti-drone systems being introduced to the market, ranging from RF-jamming shoulder-mounted guns, net-equipped drone-seeking drones, and even trained avian raptors, responding to a number of worrying drone intrusions and near-misses.

Over the past two years, there have been a number of suspicious drone sightings at French nuclear power plants, with the national government investigating the people behind the airspace intrusions. Culprit accusations range from anti-nuclear protest groups to nation-state spying, as well as clueless amateur aeronautical enthusiasts, but the French government has turned to the Malou Tech Interceptor MP200 anti-drone drone.

Another notable source of drone anxiety has been near-misses with aircraft. The UK has seen a number of these incidents, and like France, already has laws on the books that should prevent drones being used in these places. Evidently, they aren’t working, and so the two governments may well turn to platforms like DT’s to enforce these laws.