Unwanted Guests at the Stadium: Drones

Silhouette of a man controlling flying drone. 3D rendered illustration of drone.

By Staff Reports

(DGIwire) – When baseball fans look up into the sky at a stadium, what they want to see is a fly ball—not a drone. But as recently reported in Venues Today, a drone crashed into the upper deck of San Diego’s Petco Park early in the 2017 season. Previous drones had crashed into Pittsburgh’s PNC Park and into the stands of the US Open tennis tournament in New York City. Not only do these drones pose a nuisance to stadium operators, notes the magazine; there is a fear they could be used as bomb-carrying devices.

Not all major sporting leagues prohibit drones around ballparks and stadiums, and there is a further roadblock, notes the magazine: not only do drones not need to be registered, but the Federal Aviation Administration treats them in the same category as commercial airliners, which means legally companies aren’t allowed to shoot them down.

“Drones represent the next evolutionary step in urban warfare,” says Jonathan Hunter, CEO of Department 13. “The majority of outdoor venues aren’t doing much to protect themselves against drones. There is increasing recognition from a strategy standpoint that more needs to be done.”

Department 13’s technology, called MESMER™, is a revolutionary commercial counter-drone platform, using sophisticated automated detection and mitigation strategies to stop, redirect, land or take total control of a target drone or radio-controlled device. This is done with protocol manipulation, which takes advantage of weaknesses found in all digital radio protocols. MESMER is also flexible, operating as a stand-alone system, or working in tandem with existing hardware solutions. MESMER is ideal for both commercial and defense/security organizations to deal with the emerging threat of ubiquitous autonomous systems. The company’s counter-drone solution offers the best of Department 13’s innovative technologies and deep experience.

Unlike other systems that use radio jamming and standard electronic mitigation techniques, MESMER uses signal features and metadata to select and apply strategies in order to curtail drone threats, regardless of how drone vendors may try and prevent this from happening. This protocol manipulation is low-power so it offers an advantage by not affecting non-targeted communication signals. This also allows MESMER to operate below one watt and within U.S. regulatory (FCC) constraints.

The MESMER platform addresses diverse threat scenarios and drone types. It allows the possibility of “non-kinetic mitigations” (i.e. drones are not shot down) that pose no public hazards. Its open software architecture integrates with other security applications. Furthermore, the platform is operational in multi-terrain (urban, remote and rugged) environments, and it is easily deployed to support mobile counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) operation.

“Venue operators can adopt groundbreaking technology and take steps to mitigate this ever-more-pressing type of threat,” Hunter adds.

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