The Drone Defender directionally blocks GPS signals, on the assumption that the drone will land when it loses GPS (which is the case with 3DR and DJI products, but can be disabled)

From Popular Science:

The Battelle DroneDefender is a rifle made for electronic warfare, as first reported by Motherboard. The gun looks like a hodgepodge of science fiction props strapped together. Despite its appearance, it’s not made to fire any projectile. Instead, the DroneDefender works by jamming the communications of commercial drones, causing them to lose control and, ideally, land.

The DroneDefender s weighs less than 10 pounds and can be mounted on any existing weapon with a picatinny rail—a fairly standard mount found on military rifles.

The attachment jams GPS signals, as well as radio signals normally reserved for industrial, scientific, and medical radio communications (the ISM band). It’s primary targets are small commercial drones flown in places the federal government doesn’t want them to be: the radio bands it uses to disrupt drone signals are restricted, so this isn’t a product for everyday consumers annoyed by their neighbors quadcopter. Not to mention the fact that currently, the cost hasn't been publicized.

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Comment by Mark Omo on October 15, 2015 at 1:45pm

My first thought when I read this was that this is very illegal, and would only protect against non malicious drones and those that have a well defined behavior when they lose gps, some might just go right on flying but now they have no idea where they really are. I wonder hat the target use case is for this? if you are anticipating malicious drones wouldn't some kind of birdshot work far better? I guess I can't foresee a use case for this

Comment by Joshua on October 15, 2015 at 3:12pm

The most probable use would be for law enforcement trying to stop illegal (but non-malicious) use of drones. Of course, the scenarios have to also have environments that would have jammed UAVs landing in open fields, etc, rather than in stadium crowds, etc.

Comment by Wyatt Earp on October 15, 2015 at 4:13pm

this can be worked around.. all you have to do is add a code to your transmitter or encription and it will ignore all other signals...  they didnt state it messes up the gps just washes it with signals...  meaning control.. when gps does down the military has visual cameras to use terain which was used back in ww2 and some jets today still use guidance like this in missles.... lasers  that shoot them down are more effective... or force feilds.. but really this is getting rediculouse .. if idiots didnt just fly these things into people or do what trappy did  hit someone.. and it wasnt until dji and companies came out with actual quadcopters for the masses and dummy proof that this started to happen..

ones you have to build or 20 years ago when they didnt exsist you never saw this wanna know why older people fly jets and things.. now since the news uses the words drones everyone has to have one... its making it harder for us vetrans to fly for fun 

Comment by Joshua on October 15, 2015 at 4:47pm

Wyatt; the device described in the article is a directional GPS jammer; it might possibly be also designed to mess with controls, but it's primary mode of operation would almost certainly be as a directional GPS noise jammer; in other words, it just spews noise over the GPS signal, rendering the GPS signal impossible to discern without a well shielded and fairly directional GPS antenna.

Comment by Wyatt Earp on October 15, 2015 at 5:54pm

gps operates in high frequencies.. what i meant was even if the gps is interupted.. its a waste to use the weapon.. because other things exsist you would have to use as well... other things being visual tracking via camera.. laser target designation with a beam... and sonar...

if all you do is affecet the drones gps.. its useless 50 year old tech would still hit its target....

what they need to do is jam the transmitter function so you cant tell it where to go what to shoot etc those are  now in the ghz range.. but then again someone if they now know the wepaon is for gps modify and go back to ham freqs i mean you need a weapon thats broad based not just sent on one thing.. i mean besides if someone wanted to they can go back to ww 1 weapon tech fire and hope it hits i mean this device is pointless as a weapon.. what if a airplane is flying near and this thing hits it the liability factor... to me its just    a waste of resources and money spent on an idea that some student had...

use a laser to shoot it down like the military has if they can shoot a missle down at 5 times the speed of sound with a laser now they can do it pssst the white house has such a system in place...they could use radar to manually target the dji inspire or what ever and blow it up... just seems silly to me... they have cell phone jammers use one of those and make a net around your building jam 72 mz up to gps signals if your that scared

Comment by loy_ap on October 16, 2015 at 7:58am

With regard to legality, Battelle manages or co-manages several DOE installations including Oak Ridge National Laboratory (where "The Bomb" was developed). Laws regarding blocking radio transmissions (Cell etc...) kind of don't exist there (been there, can't remember the weird message my phone displayed while I was on site, do remember the MPs at the gate as it was a year or two after 9/11).

Comment by Pedals2Paddles on October 16, 2015 at 6:56pm

Does anyone read?  The device is intended to jam BOTH the GPS and the control.  It's basically a broadband highly directional RF **EDIT** cannon.  Wyatt does not understand how RF works if he thinks "write some code to ignore the jamming" is plausible.  That's not how it works.  The intent of this device is to block the GPS and control frequencies.  This cuts off it's ability to operate manually and autonomously.  

The problem, and it's a BIG problem, is how will the drone react to this.  It might try to RTL and fly off in a random direction due to GPS interference. It might reaquire GPS and successfully RTL, or restart the mission.  It might disable the GPS and just drift off with the wind.  It might try to auto-land immediately and crash into whatever is under it. It might just randomly careen into something or someone.  I think the LEAST LIKELY outcome is this bullshit they show in the video where it magically just lands perfectly.

As such, this device is very likely to cause more problems, more injuries, and more damage than if left well enough alone.  

Comment by Philip Giacalone on October 16, 2015 at 9:18pm

The information released about the Battelle DroneDefender likely contains less than the full, honest story. There's no advantage to Battelle to divulge all its secrets. 

The video shows the drone being slowly lowered to the ground while pointing the directional antenna. Remotely controlling the drone's altitude like this would be best achieved by GPS spoofing. Recall that this is believed to be how the Iranians brought down an American military drone.

I can imagine the device using its elevation angle to adjust the GPS spoofing altitude as it is lowered to the ground. 

Comment by Mark Omo on October 16, 2015 at 10:32pm

I doubt they are doing GPS spoofing, as the equipment required for that is very sophisticated, and a DJI phantom would not descend as depicted given that it shows all red the error code for loss of GPS lock, I agree with Pedals I think the most likely scenario is some undefined behavior that would be dangerous and far worse than just pursuing the operator. This seems like a bad idea all around.

Comment by Mark Perot on October 17, 2015 at 12:37pm
I'm not near as knowledgeable about most of this stuff as some of you. But I do know this sounds like a bad idea. It looks like it would present a laundry list of potential Unknowns. And what about range and collateral effect?

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