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$150 Cyber Rifle Downs Drones with Radio Waves

$150 Cyber Rifle Downs Drones with Radio Waves

According to the Consumer Technology Association, “The United States will reach one million unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) flights per day within the next 20 years” if trends continue and government regulations permit. But as drones increase in popularity, their dangers become more and more apparent, and disabling them when they are used for nefarious purposes with strategies such as unleashing a fleet of expertly trained police eagles may not be all that feasible. New tools are being invented however, including the cyber rifle demonstrated below, which can disable drones using radio signals rather than bullets.

In the video, which was recently posted to the Department of Defense’s twitter account, a soldier shows off the cyber rifle’s capabilities for the current Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, by nailing a Parrot quadcopter in midair with a radio signal that disables the drone by essentially giving it the remote command to power off. In this case, it seems that the cyber rifle is taking advantage of a known weakness in the Parrot’s design, although cyber rifles in general have been applied to other drones—and even other tech systems—in the past. This particular cyber rifle was built by the Army Cyber Institute, which first posted a video of the digital drone disabler to their twitter account back in October of last year. In that tweet (below), the cyber rifle is used to “breach [a] bunker w/ automated light & lock,” rather than take down a drone however, showing off the wide range of potential uses for the high-tech (and relatively low damage) weapon.

According to a Popular Mechanics write-up on the rifle, it uses “a Raspberry Pi [a super cheap, credit-card sized computer], Wi-Fi radio, and antenna” in order to deliver the disabling command to its target. The rifle design also seems to be totally unnecessary for the actual function of the tool, although Captain Brent Chapman, an Army Cyber Institute research scientist, says that “By putting all of this stuff on the rifle frame, it… makes it very easy for senior leaders to consume…” So consider this your warning shot-err warning radio signal, evildoing drones.

What do you think about this cyber rifle? Is it the future of drone defense, or should we trust the eagles to keep things legal? Let us know in the comments section below!

HT: Popular Science

Images: U.S. Department of Defense via Twitter

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