UK competition to counter drones gets more funding

As we know, there are places where the authorities really don’t want drones to be flying. Airports, prisons, and sensitive facilities are just a few examples. Now, the UK government is throwing more money into a competition to come up with solutions to track and potentially neutralize drones.

The program is through the UK’s Defence and Security Accelerator program, also known as DASA. And it’s a call for industry and academia to put forward proposals that could assist the UK in being able to quickly identify drone intrusions and also disable those drones if necessary.

When the UK government announced this program earlier this year, it had allocated £1.5 million to the cause ($1.9 million). Now, it has doubled available funds to £3 million and extended its deadline to July 31.

What, exactly, is the UK after? Well, it hopes to fund solutions that might address these kinds of situations:

A scenario could include numerous drones being used at an important installation, major event or demonstration over a wide, complex geographic area, and over a prolonged period of time. The small UAVs (sUAVs) could be a mix of commercially available, high performance multirotor types, being operated directly in a planned and sophisticated manner. They could also include legitimate drones. The intent of the sUAVs could range from surveillance to malicious disruption or attack. There may be electronically sensitive infrastructure in the area.

UK Government

Detect and neutralize

And what sort of solutions is the UK looking for? It’s hoping that people will submit working solutions that could achieve the following:

  • Detect drones in a given area
  • Determine their location and assess the risk they pose
  • Locate the pilot/operator
  • Enforce a “No-Drone” zone

The hive mind

The goal here is to attract the best solutions possible — and the UK is more concerned with the quality of an idea rather than its provenance. You could hold a PhD in some esoteric field or simply be an average person with an idea. It’s the idea that counts — something the government emphasized when it first announced this competition in late May. The purpose is to be agile and attract the most innovative and practical ideas. To give you a better look at the project, here are a couple of slides from a deck made public when it was announced May 29.

From UK Government slides

The big picture? Drones can pose multiple threats:

From UK Government slides

If you’re thinking of pulling something together, save time and avoid submitting anything like these:

From UK Government slides

We’re all for ensuring that drones can’t be used where they’re not supposed to fly — and look forward to seeing the winning solutions.

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