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Saturday, Feb 4, 2023

Drone Defense to Protect Airports

Burbank’s 34 North Drones this month announced its newest service, No-Drone, a military-grade radar detection system designed to pinpoint and track unwanted drones. Right now, the company is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to get its technology in airports, among other areas that have high-profile infrastructure vulnerable to drones. The No-Drone system is in Europe and testing in Canada in addition to use by the U.S. military, but there are no local clients yet, according to Jay Keith, partner at the company. 34 North has a two-model payment system, one for permanent clients to buy the technology and another for companies or organizations that just want to use it for a couple days. The No-Drone system costs roughly $750,000, Keith said, so if an event such as an outdoor concert needed it for a few days, they could rent instead of buying. “One of the biggest areas to grow in the drone industry is going to be drone defense, simply because of the growth of drones from being larger to being almost microscopic. The concern is the access to drones hovering outside a corporate window and being able to eavesdrop on a specific conversation,” said Laura O’Donnell, a drone risk management expert at Marsh and McLennan Agency in Kansas. The No-Drone system offers its clients 360-degree coverage day and night, the company said in a statement. The tech was originally used to recognize small objects on a battlefield such as incoming mortar, artillery and rocket fire, as well as fixed-wing and rotocraft UAVs. 34 North also sells consumer, professional and enterprise drones, drone parts and accessories, as well as drone services in film and television, public safety and aerial mapping and inspections. “When we pick the system up on radar, our tracking plate, which is automated to the radar receiver, then can turn and hone in and find where exactly that drone is,” explained Keith. The system can determine the altitude and distance of the drone and then fly one of its own drones into the space with a high-powered zoom camera in order to get a closer look. “It can go in there and actually look at them and actually observe and see if there’s something hanging, is there a pod, is there something that might be an explosive or something with a biohazard in it that’s going to drop on something or somebody, or be dropped into the water supply,” added Keith. The system can also pick up a guidance signal and trace it back to the operator. From there, a client would send the appropriate authorities to the drone’s location to intercept the threat, including with other drones. Although 34 North is focusing its marketing and sales efforts on airports, it hasn’t ruled out other potential businesses and organizations. Spaces with critical infrastructure, water supplies or any kind of place where you have a large gathering of people could benefit from the system, Keith said.

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