Drones, the small flying machines carrying cameras, have become a modern-day blessing and a curse for law enforcement and scientists.
“The thing that can kind of keep you up at night is somebody using it to harm people. We’ve seen that already,” said Larry Satterwhite, Houston Police Department’s assistant chief over homeland security.
Drones have become easily accessible to consumers at relatively low costs. Law enforcement officials and researchers said people are using them to harm others.
Drones as threats
“There are actual cases in the United States and in other places where people have brought in drugs or guns to prisons and they drop them to the inmates. In certain areas of the Middle East right now, they’re using them as weapons and dropping small explosive onto people,” said Richard Lusk, director of Unmanned Aerial Systems Research Center at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“Technology as it is, is going so fast. We often find ourselves playing catchup to the technology that’s out there,” Satterwhite said.
There are ways of preventing threats posed by drones by attacking the electronics inside the machines.
“They’re essentially electronic devices that rely in part on GPS. So, if you think about that, you can spoof a GPS system. You can use an EMP (electromagnetic) pulse or an RF (radiofrequency) pulse to disrupt their communications from the driver or actually the onboard electronics and then basically fry the electronics,” said Lusk.