The U.S. government remains fully committed to widening the use of domestic drones. Arguments for and against have run the gamut from privacy concerns to possible weaponization and killing of American citizens on U.S. soil.
However, as civil libertarians continue to do battle with a government dead-set on testing the U.S. Constitution, domestic drone use is taking other forms. A wide variety of public and private companies — real estate agents, media outlets, or just drone enthusiasts — are literally testing the boundaries of drone flight and potential for spying without detection.
According to U.S News, John Franklin believes he has an answer for at least alerting people about a drone entering their personal space: enter the “DroneShield.”
Franklin is an aerospace engineer based in Washington D.C. who has initiated his project through Indiegogo. His project already has exceeded his financing target after just a few days. According to the DroneShield project site, Franklin seeks to offer his creation for a retail price of $69 and perhaps even lower.
We hope that there will be enough interest to justify further development to reduce costs in future generations; we believe ultimately we could get the cost down to the $20-range at scale. Future plans could include moving to an open-source ‘sourceforge’ type development environment and teaming with 3rd party hardware makers. We could also envision a smart-phone based platform for portable applications.
The device would utilize an open source database of drone sounds that would be identified through a connected Wi-Fi device that can interpret a drone’s acoustic signature. Once a drone has been identified by the DroneShield mounted in a selected area, the user could be alerted via text message or e-mail that there has been an intrusion.
Franklin explains his motivation for creating the DroneShield:
“I bought a [drone] from Amazon and was going to use it to look at my roof. The wind took it and I crashed it into my neighbor’s yard. It freaked him out once he noticed it had a camera on it,” Franklin says. “It sort of dawned on me that it’s so easy to invade someone’s privacy with a couple hundred dollar drone.”
There are some limitations, however. DroneShield will only be capable of detecting mid-sized drones flying within the immediate vicinity, as opposed to larger drones which fly at altitudes that could not be detected. It also will not be able to detect the increasingly minaturized drones that are modeled after insects, such as Robobee, or the potentially lethal nano-drone “Micro Air Vehicles” shown in the Air Force video below.
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While Franklin’s invention would not be the first to attempt to mitigate the potential for drone surveillance, he seeks to offer the least expensive option.
Regardless of DroneShield’s ultimate success, there clearly is interest in offering people ways to combat the threat of pervasive and undetected surveillance. John Franklin has taken an important step that will perhaps inspire others to build off of his concept.
If you know of any other similar products or projects, please leave your comments below, or contact us via activistpost at gmail.com and we would be happy to feature your concept or invention.
For more information, DroneShield technical specifications, or to contribute to DroneShield please visit the Indiegogo funding page here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/droneshield/
Read other articles by Nicholas West Here