South Korea Gets Ready For Drone-On-Drone Warfare With North Korea

Just call it the “Drone militarized zone”
Octocopter In Flight
Les Chatfield, via Flickr CC BY 2.0

The Korean demilitarized zone is an artifact of the Korean War, a heavily defended two-and-a-half-mile-wide static front line for a war that never officially ended. But technology has not remained static over the half-century since the end of the fighting, and now South Korea is researching new ways to counter North Korean drones. One of their answers: Nets.

Drones fighting drones is an idea that’s seen a recent surge in popularity, as governments and security agencies figure out how exactly to stop the small flying machines. One idea is Rapere, which would use a fast interceptor drone to drop wires on hostile quadcoptor rotors. In France, Malou Tech is developing two types of anti-drone drones: one is small kamikaze quadcopter that disables enemy drones by crashing into them; the other is a larger, net-carrying drone, which snags other flying craft from the sky like fish in the sea. Last month, Dutch company Delft Dynamics took the idea a step further, with a drone that launched a net from a cannon at another drone.

The Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (the same group that brought us this weird wall-climbing quadcopter) are developing teams of drones to fight possible unmanned aerial vehicles from North Korea. In the video below, several drones work together to take down a target, represented by an inflatable dummy truck.

First, a transport octocopter flies up to the enemy target. It carries an unmanned ground vehicle, which will come into play later, and is escorted by friendly drones flying in formation around it. As the transport gets close to its target, hostile drones arrive to defend the dummy truck, and the friendly drone escorts drop nets on the hostile drones. With the hostile drones netted, the transport lands and unloads its ground robot, before flying away. The ground robot then drives up to the inflatable dummy truck target, and as the video ends, we see the truck deflate, indicating mission success. We don’t know exactly how the ground robot deflates the truck or what that deflation translates to in a real conflict, but a fairly safe assumption is that the ground robot would place a small explosive on the enemy vehicle it was sent to disable or destroy.

The action takes place across five screens, all stacked in the video below like comic book panels. The drones and ground bot all work autonomously, flying and fighting together. It heralds a future of robot-on-robot warfare, or at least one where robots fight other robots alongside humans. Watch the demonstration below:

IEEE Spectrum