As drones get faster, smarter, and able to carry larger payloads over longer distances, they pose a real threat if used as a weapon. As a result, the military developed anti-drone countermeasures to make them fall from the sky, including a new new approach this explode them with banners.
Aiming well and blasting a drone from the sky with a rifle isn’t impossible, but it’s not easy, and it’s unreliable. Thus, the armies of the world have spent as much money in developing counter-drone technology as they have spent developing drone technology, to start, and found solutions that included everything from grenades that explosively drop nets within range of one, to long-range lasers that can intelligently track and zap drones long before they’re close enough to become a viable threat.
But as Core77 points out, DARPA, the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was apparently inspired to develop another way to neutralize drones based on a video from a few years ago showing a camera drone crashing to the ground during a music festival after crossing the path of a confetti cannon. Achilles heel of most multi-engine drones, whose maneuverability and stability in the air are depending on whether all its propellers are turning at the same time, is to find a way to deactivate one or more of them. Researchers have found ways to safely land a partially disabled drone, but even minimal damage often means its primary mission or flight plan cannot be completed.
As part of a larger system where X-band radar is used to detect, identify and track unmanned aerial threats, an automated system makes predictions of its flight path and then automatically activates one of many interceptors. reusable drones in the field, depending on what can potentially reach the unknown drone first. Instead of lasers, bullets, or nets, the last approach to neutralizing the threat is to detonate a wad of stringy but sturdy streamer-like material that spreads out as it travels through the air, increasing the chances of at least one strand of the material wrapping around a drone’s propeller blade and stopping it, and in turn the entire craft.
Using streamers as ammunition has many advantages as it is cheaper, potentially more environmentally friendly when parts that miss the target end up on the ground, and safer in the event of a targeting incident. But that doesn’t mean it’s cheap, as the overall effectiveness of this approach depends entirely on whether the autonomous flying interceptor gets close enough to hit the intended target, and seeing it in action you know that it is certainly not one of the cheapest military tools.