In years past, drone aircraft were expensive and difficult to control. Today, you can pick up a speedy drone with long flight time for a pittance. Many of them even link with a phone for quick setup. Naturally, governments and law enforcement are worried about the hazards drones represent, and that’s why AerialX designed the DroneBullet. It’s a new type of drone that’s one part quadcopter and one part missile. Its goal is to knock other drones out of the sky.
Imagine someone used a drone to transport an explosive device. How would law enforcement stop the drone even if they knew where it was? That might still sound like the plot to a Hollywood B movie, but drones are already very real threats in other ways. Gatwick Airport was shut down for a stretch early this year because of unauthorized drone flights in the area.
The DroneBullet leverages machine vision and an impressive four-kilometer range to seek and destroy other unmanned aircraft. AerialX says this is a better solution than nets and jamming devices because it offers immediate action against a dangerous drone.
It weighs 910 grams, and the array of propellers gives it ample maneuverability. You can launch it by hand, and the operator only has to indicate a target. From there, the on-board software and cameras track the other drone and aim for a collision. The DroneBullet can even identify different types of unmanned aircraft and adjust its tactics accordingly. For example, a small quadcopter like a DJI Phantom is most vulnerable to a direct strike from below. A larger commercial drone might require a more powerful dive bomb attack from above.
It doesn’t carry an explosive charge, but rather smacks into the offending drone at high speed. Even a glancing blow is enough to neutralize the target when impacted at up to 217 miles per hour (350 kilometers per hour). The DroneBullet is built to be durable, so it might survive destroying its target. In that case, the drone has the ability to recalibrate and pursue a second objective.
AerialX recently demoed the DroneBullet for the United States Special Operations Command (USSOC). During the test at Fort Bragg, the DroneBullet tracked and destroyed various drones from small to large. The company says it has gotten orders from the military and law enforcement. That’s the entire customer base — the general public won’t be allowed to purchase this drone-killing device.
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