Ray guns v. drones

I generally do not welcome the advent of ubiquitous UAVs, filling the air with traffic, snooping on neighbors, and generally annoying me.

I have commented on various defenses that people will surely deploy, in an arms race that only adds to the undesirable effects of civilian drone proliferation. I was one of the first to call for a rebirth of falconry, deploying avian defenders.

Of course, UAVs are also used in combat, and military drones are way more dangerous (that is their purpose) and way tougher to sweep away. The countermeasures we see for civilian uses are of little use against military aircraft.

Military forces need to be able to shoot down UAVs quickly and efficiently. It’s a matter of life and death, and it calls for some serious technology.

Like, say, ray guns.

I can see the logic of this weapon: UAVs are small and numerous and might be launched from anywhere. It’s hard to know what a drone might do, it might be listening, in might carry weapons. And you only have seconds before it is on you.

Directed energy weapons have some chance of dropping a drone quickly, and can fire repeatedly at a swarm without running out of projectiles.

Of course, military UAVs will soon be hardened to resist such attacks, and I’m sure that all the major military powers will have such directed energy weapons, and also hardened drones. But the lightest and cheapest drones will remain vulnerable, so this weapon might give some breathing space, especially against repurposed civilian UAVs.

Evan Ackerman notes that microwaves are similarly effective against any electronics, including vehicles, computers, and radios. They also are painful and potencially harmful for people who get in the beam This is not a toy.

I would also add that the increased military use of wearable devices, smart clothing, and on-body networks means that an individual soldier and his or her kit might be quite vulnerable to this weapon as well.

By the way, this weapon probably would chase away or kill off raptors, defensive or not. Not to mention innocent wildlife, farm animals, and civilians. Sigh.

Will we see this kind of tech in civilian setting?. Gosh, I hope not soon. But I’m sure that there will be a temptation to deploy stuff like this around major fixed infrastructure and monuments.  Double sigh.

Unfortunately, I suspect you could build a crude but very dangerous version of this concept in a garage. (It would probably be as dangerous to the operator as to any drones in the area.) The main good news is that this technology probably less dangerous that some alternatives, such as blasting away with a shotgun or homemade artillery.


Robot Wednesday Tuesday

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