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Say welcome to the special anti-drone shoulder 'rifle'

Technically Incorrect: The Drone Defender doesn't shoot down the drone. It disables it by interrupting its systems.

3 min read

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Point, shoot and disable. Battelle/YouTube screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

We're in the middle of radical warfare.

Some peace-loving citizens are seeing things buzzing in the sky and then wondering if they or their loved ones are being spied on.

Some are taking extreme action. In Kentucky, for example, a man took out his gun and shot down a drone that he says was hovering near his home for far too long.

Such incidents are multiplying, just as drones are. Who cannot imagine a Christmas Day 2015 when multiple drone shootings will occur, sending newly unwrapped gizmos plummeting back down to Earth?

Here, then, is a different sort of solution. It's a shoulder "rifle" you can "fire" at a drone to force it down without destroying it.

This remarkably sensitive item is called the Drone Defender. It was announced Tuesday by Battelle, which claims to be the largest nonprofit research and development organization in the world.

The Drone Defender interferes with the radio frequency of the drone. It fools the drone into believing it's out of range of its owner. Battelle spokeswoman Katy Delaney told me that once the drone experiences confusion, "it will commonly do one of three things. It will drop to the ground, return to its operator or descend in a controlled manner."

Battelle says the rifle works within a 400-meter radius. In posting its simulation video to YouTube, the company said, "Drones are great, but not when someone is doing something bad with one, like dropping contraband into a prison or flying into restricted airspace."

Indeed, Battelle says its primary goal lies in helping the authorities guard against drones that have a malicious purpose.

The authorities have endured increasing interference from drones in recent times. Amateur nosy people sent up drones to film wildfires in California, thereby getting in the way of helicopters that were trying to douse the flames with water.

Airline pilots have reported near misses with drones in exponential numbers. And then there are those enthusiasts who think it's fun to mount a gun on a drone (enthusiasts of what, one might ask).

It seems that with the Drone Defender, you could simply pick up the gadget and start disabling almost instantly.

But will the device ever be available to the ordinary citizen, as so many military gadgets ultimately are? It would surely defuse disputes such as the one in Kentucky, where the drone's owners came to the shooter's door in not the finest of moods.

"At the moment it can only be used by federal authorities with appropriate FCC approvals," Delaney told me. "We are exploring future uses as regulations about drone technology evolve."

How much, though, might one of these things cost?

"We cannot be specific about cost other than to say it is highly affordable," Delaney said, adding that it's tough to compare to rival gadgets because other systems include detection technologies. "We opted to make the [person using the 'rifle'] our detector and decision maker."

The Drone Defender will likely go into production early next year. Perhaps one day your own subdivision will be a more peaceful place because of it.

One can hope.