A Major League Baseball (MLB) game between the Minnesota Twins and the Pittsburgh Pirates in August 2020 was halted for nine long minutes when someone sent an unauthorized drone over Target Field. Amazingly, that is only one of four times that an MLB game was interrupted by a drone in the summer/fall of 2020!
In addition to delaying games, drones can be used to record unauthorized videos of game play, interfere with official broadcasts and most ominously, carry potentially dangerous payloads.
These types of scenarios are well established, as shown when a drone flew over a stadium in Belgrade and lowered a flag with a “Greater Albania” insignia during a qualifying soccer match between Serbia and Albania. This triggered a nasty brawl involving players, fans and team officials.
Commercial drones are readily available, relatively inexpensive and can cause mayhem at packed sporting events – or even sparsely attended events during the current COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic. How can a rogue sUAS be mitigated?
THE SHOW MUST GO ON – DO NOT JAM IT
Radars often have trouble differentiating between small drones and other flying objects for detection and they are complicated to operate. Optic solutions generate false alarms and the problem with many acoustic solutions is that drones are becoming increasingly quiet.
Jammer-based solutions, or hybrid solutions featuring jammers for mitigation, emit large amounts of energy to block drones’ controller signals and render them largely unable to function. This is not the optimal solution for sports and entertainment venues, for several reasons. Jamming affects other radio communications, which could hamper the live broadcast and the arena’s security operations.
Many sports and concert venues today utilize drones to capture video footage of events, but jamming solutions may be unable to distinguish between “friend and foe.” Also, drones that get jammed can behave unpredictably, sometimes dangerously plummeting to the ground. Finally, jamming is temporary and the rogue drone’s pilot may retake control, bringing the situation back to square one.
Kinetic counter-drone solutions, which involve physically shooting down the sUAS, are also too risky in crowded stadiums. What goes up must come down, and the projectile, the falling drone, or the metal debris that is created from shooting a drone, could injure players and fans.
TAKEOVER IS A HOMERUN
EnforceAir, D-Fend Solutions’ flagship solution, features field-proven and future-proof technology that detects unauthorized or rogue drones, identifies them and then automatically takes control over the drones and lands them in a safe, designated area. An alert zone can be set on the outer perimeter of the stadium, with multiple protection zones blanketing the venue and surrounding areas.
Unlike conventional counter-drone technologies, EnforceAir empowers security personnel with full control and protects players, fans, security personnel, concession staff, broadcasters and everyone else involved. Continuity can be ensured, without interrupting a game or inadvertently frightening the fans.