Someday, sometimes, drones might do a bad thing. Quadcopters are small and cheap, capable of carrying cameras or tiny cargoes into places they shouldn’t, and no one quite knows how to protect against them. On Friday, the drone-centric corner of the internet shook with the announcement of OpenWorks Engineering’s SkyWall, a high-tech anti-drone weapon that shoots nets at drones. Tomorrow, they'll display it at the British Home Office's Security and Policing event.
OpenWorks’s SkyWall brochure advertises three variants on the system: the shoulder-mounted SkyWall 100, a stand-mounted SkyWall 200, and a fixed mechanical turret called SkyWall 300. Each will be capable of firing the same four projectiles. There’s the basic training projectile, SP01. There are three net-carrying projectiles: a basic net, a net and a parachute, and a net that that comes with electronic counter measures, presumably jamming any signals sent from the captured drone.
The basic, human-portable launcher is 4’3” long, 1’ tall, 11” wide, and weighs 22 pounds. it's marketed right now for police and government use, so I wouldn't expect to see any in civilian hands anytime soon. The pneumatically launched projectiles can hit targets as far away as 330 feet, and has tracking software to make sure the net really catches the drone.
Nets are popular, too, whether carried by drones, fired by drones, or used by humans on the ground against drones. More unconventional methods include firing lasers and even training eagles to attack quadcopters.
SkyWall fits into the broader world of anti-drone tools nicely, with sleek production and a scary name, but even their promotional video’s litany of drone risks can’t find a time drones caused airplanes more damage than a turtle.
Watch it below: