FAA Expands Drone Detection Effort


New technologies that could detect and perhaps also take control of drones that fly too close to airports are now being studied by the FAA, the agency said in a news release this week. The FAA signed agreements with three private companies — Gryphon Sensors, Liteye Systems and Sensofusion — that have developed technology and expertise in drone operations. “Sometimes people fly drones in an unsafe manner,” said Marke Gibson, FAA’s senior advisor on UAS integration. “Government and industry share responsibility for keeping the skies safe, and we’re pleased these three companies have taken on this important challenge.” The companies will develop prototype UAS sensor detection systems that then will be tested at airports selected by the FAA.

Tuomas Rasila, CEO of Sensofusion, said his company has developed technology that can “detect, locate, track, and gain control over UAS” as part of a military project, and operated it with three European armies under NATO. “Fast forward to the present time, and Airfence is now protecting various customer sites in Europe, including prisons, high-profile government buildings, police, and military sites,” Rasila said. “Since the technology is software-based, it improves with over-the-air updates, ensuring that we are always ahead of the commercial UAS market.” The FAA also has partnered with DHS and CACI International to explore UAS detection technologies. Besides the FAA, other federal agencies participating in the effort include the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI.