The UK Government has announced it will spend nearly £2 million to develop anti-drone technologies through a competition launched earlier this year.
18 projects will receive funding of £100,000 through the MoD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to improve anti-drone capabilities, with universities and a host of companies from across the UK earmarked for cash boosts.
Run by DASA on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the competition is the latest stage in Dstl’s ongoing research programme into countering unmanned air systems (UAS). The programme has been running for 10 years.
Among the proposals being developed are methods for detecting 4G and 5G controlled drones, AI and machine learning for sensors to automatically detect UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) and a range of “interceptor solutions”.
David Lugton, competition technical lead for DASA, commented: “The introduction of Unmanned Air Systems (UAS), often referred to as drones, has been one of the most significant technological advances of recent years and represents a shift in capability of potential adversaries.
“The threat from UAS has evolved rapidly and we are seeing the use of hostile improved UAS threats in overseas theatres of operation.
“There is a similar problem in the UK with the malicious or accidental use of drones becoming a security challenge at events, affecting critical infrastructure and public establishments; including prisons and major UK airports.”
The move comes amid a period of concern over the increased use of drones across the UK. Last year, Gatwick Airport was brought to a standstill due to repeated drone sightings. More than 100,000 passengers were affected by the disruption just ahead of Christmas.
Last week the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) also announced new drone regulations that will see pilots required to take an online test and register their ownership of a device before the end of this month.
The first phase of the competition will aim to demonstrate proof-of-concepts that can be further developed and integrated during later phases, the MoD confirmed. Phase 1 is expected to launch next year, with a strong focus placed on “developing and maturing” successful research projects that can be applied in real-world scenarios.