14 Anti Drone Technology Startups to Watch
Anti-drone technology is becoming a hot topic these days. As drones are becoming more affordable and widespread, there is an increased risk of them being put to use in sinister use cases – like this one:
Then you have regular consumers to worry about as well. When millennials can’t even understand how interest rates work, how can they be trusted to fly drones without fcuking something up?
In 2015, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) scrambled to solidify their user registration rules before Christmas expecting that more than 400,000 drones would be given as presents. Notwithstanding registration and commercial operating rules, the FAA is still quite lax with violators getting off with a slap on the wrist. There also have been instances of threats to national security in Washington, Tokyo, and Dresden, prompting some people to take matters into their own hands:
We already talked about two anti-drone technology stocks in our aptly named article “2 Anti Drone Technology Stocks”. Now, we’ll take a look at 14 startups that have cropped up in this space.
Drone Jamming Technology
Founded in 2016, San Diego startup Citadel Defense Company has raised $13.8 million to develop a drone detection and interference system that detects wi-fi and radio control signals with a low false-positive rate, even in high-signal urban areas. Their proprietary “Hunter Algorithm” employs a supervised machine learning model and neural networks to reject false positives and outputs a jamming signal localized to the control frequency ID’ed.
This way, interference is restricted to the target and doesn’t affect nearby radio frequency (RF) systems. Deployment and operations require no technical knowledge, level of protection can be customized, and the defended area is extendable to any shape and size with multiple units. Current customers include the U.S. Department of Defense.
Founded in 1996, SkyDroner is a subsidiary of Singapore-based Teleradio Engineering, and has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop SkyDroner, a camera-based system that detects, monitors, distracts, and disables unwanted drones from up to 1,000 meters away. It was introduced to the market in 2016 and costs between $50,000 and $80,000 per camera.
There’s a model for urban applications with a maximum effective range of 500 meters and a long-range version for desert environments with 1,000 meters range that also looks like an ion cannon from a sci-fi B-movie. The company already sells under-vehicle surveillance systems, vehicle x-rays, and other encryption and CCTV systems for its client base in the Asia Pacific and the Middle East. They can now add anti-drone technology to that mix.
Founded in 2014, San Francisco startup Dedrone has raised $28 million to develop an automated drone security platform. RF sensors connect to a DroneTracker application that uses machine learning and acts as the “brain” of the system. It analyzes data input and detects, classifies, and protects against drone threats, recognizing the drone model and locating the pilot.
The platform can also manage different mitigation tools like jammers, counter-drone capture methods, or passive countermeasures like blocking areas from view or locking down certain zones. Dedrone has had several high profile projects, including the annual Global Economic Forum in Davos in 2017/2018, the Rio Olympics, and the final presidential debate of 2016 in Las Vegas. At the time of their Series B funding round in 2017, the team had already surpassed 200 installations of their system.
Nets and Net Guns to Catch Drones
French startup MALOU-tech has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a suite of quadcopters that includes autonomous models, models for large payloads and one equipped with an anti-drone net. Their Interceptor model debuted in 2015 as a response to the increased number of drone sightings in Paris and around the country’s nuclear plants.
The drone’s aim is to catch and land unwanted drones with the minimal collateral damage possible. MALOU-tech focuses on the French market as evidenced by their French-only website – an anomaly we’ve been coming across quite often lately.
Founded in 2015, UK startup OpenWorks Engineering has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a drone capture system using a physical net called Skywall. It comes in two sizes; the Skywall 100 is a portable compressed air launcher that looks like a bazooka, and the Skywall 300 is a large mounted cannon that can be system integrated for full autonomy.
OpenWorks claims the biggest benefits of their physical capture system are predictable outcomes and a low risk of collateral damage. The Skywall 100 was deployed to protect the Berlin Air Show this year, working alongside other tracking and jamming appliances.
Birds That Chase Drones
Founded in 2013, Dutch startup Guard From Above, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to train birds of prey to bring down rogue drones. Team members use their 27 years of experience to train birds and bird handlers for law enforcement and military customers, and offer consultancy services on how best to use them. The team trains different species of birds for the task, an idea that was even been copied by the French Airforce in 2017. Guard From Above does not share its client base, but is looking to expand internationally through conferences and market incubation programs in Europe and the US. Comments on how these poor birds are being abused in 3… 2… 1…
Taking Over Control of Drones
Founded in 2016, Silicon Valley startup ApolloShield has raised $2.6 million in seed funding from the likes of Y Combinator to develop a plug-and-play detection and countermeasure system. Their sensor box uses cameras, radar, audio and radio sensors to locate drones and operators, collects drone forensics, and take over the drones sending “go home” commands. Users can orchestrate the operation of multiple sensor boxes manually or autonomously. If needed, the command center can connect to signal jammers or physical countermeasures from another provider.
Founded in 2015, Israeli startup Convexum has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a fully autonomous perimeter protection from unwanted drones. Founder Gilad Sahar has more than 10 years of experience in reverse engineering protocols which he used to create a perimeter application that prevents unauthorized entry and takes control of the offending drone, landing it in a safe location. The protected zone can extend up to one kilometer, and the algorithm follows drones from detection to safe landing minimizing collateral damage. Convexum focuses on the detection and removal of non-military drones, guarding critical infrastructure facilities, sports venues and theme parks in the U.S.
Founded in 2016, D-Fend Solutions is another Israeli startup that has taken in an undisclosed amount of funding to develop an autonomous end-to-end system that takes over rogue drones and lands them safely. D-Fend focuses on commercial drones operating in an urban environment.
Its sensor doesn’t need a line of sight, so it’s suitable for cities. It doesn’t jam the target either, so it can coexist with nearby wireless and GPS signals like Citadel’s offering. The D-Fend offering comes in modules including capabilities like detection, forensics, fending off, or landing drones.
Anti Drone Radar
Founded in 2014, New Yawwwk startup Gryphon Sensors has raised undisclosed funding to develop systems that detect, track, and identify low-altitude, small UAVs, birds and other hard-to-detect airborne traffic. Gryphon specializes in detection and monitoring only, and offers multi-sensor solutions including radars, RF sensors, and cameras to monitor airspace. The integrated interface brings together all sensor outputs and the whole operation can be managed from a mobile van if needed. The company provides drone integration services as well for operators in inspection, surveying, and precision agriculture. Gryphon works with NASA, the FAA, and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Founded in 2003, Florida startup DeTect has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop specialized bird radars for aircrafts, wind turbine projects, and other infrastructure building sites. They also offer drone sensors and radar that can identify all models of drones in an airspace with a 2-mile radius, distinguishing between radio controlled and autonomous UAVs. Information is relayed through an app or web service and the security system can incept unwanted drones as well. DeTect has won sizeable contracts from the U.S. Airforce and several Florida airports for drone and bird detection projects.
The Whole Danish Package
Danish startup Anti-Drone has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to develop a customizable and scalable response system to drone threats. Their one-stop-shop anti-UAV systems include different combinations of detection equipment, neutralization equipment, and additional security solutions built in-house or sourced externally. Their packages are differentiated based on the required perimeter range and Anti Drone offers proprietary software architecture to act as the command hub for the whole platform.
Their Grok Video Detector uses neural networks to detect drones above and below the skyline based on visuals and optimizes for less false positives like birds. Anti Drone claims to have the cheapest detection system on the market. The hub called the Grok Visual Command Center provides 3D visualization of the whole security operation including coverage, perimeter, threats and the possible location of the drone pilot.
Another Danish startup to come across our radar is MyDefence Communications. Run by former military officers, the company was founded in 2009 and specializes in products that help detect and counter drone threats. They’re now working with the world’s biggest defense contractor, Lockheed Martin, so they must be doing something right. The company’s product catalog contains some interesting offerings, everything from radar to wearables.
Since most Americans probably think Denmark is a part of England, we’re just going to sneak this one in here. Founded in 2016, English startup Drone Defence has raised an undisclosed amount of funding to create a complex defense service against drones. Their multi-pronged approach includes standard detection, tracking, and identification, a net gun for rogue drone retrieval, a so-called SkyFence for fixed area protection, a portable jammer, and managed services for one-off event protection. Drone Defence’s clients include airports, stadiums, prisons, corporates, and VIPs or High Net Worth Individuals who are increasingly worried about the paparazzi. The company works with the UK Home Office as well.
It’s not only startups who are eyeing the counter UAV market. Large security companies like Battelle, radar manufacturers like the UK’s Blighter, and the world-leading drone manufacturer DJI are all developing their own take on the problem. There are many companies out there that have a significant security budget for the right provider. Over time, even the FAA might be able to prevent freak accidents (or at least enforce its own rules). Until then, you can always just take a trip down to Cabellas.
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