In many existing drone-to-drone systems, defending drones launch a net at enemy drones. The latter’s drone’s propeller would get caught in the net and stop spinning, causing the plane to fall to the ground. These drones can hit people or any cars, buildings, etc. when they land.
A less risky alternative is being developed by the European AUDROS (AUtonomous DROne System) project. In the current version of the system, an Eagle One octarotor aircraft (made by Czech company Fly4Future) is based on a battery charging docking station (made by Polish company Dronehub).
When an approaching enemy drone is detected, the Eagle One takes off autonomously, flies to the drone’s location, positions itself above the drone, and releases a row of dangling ropes that run from its Deployed on the bottom two folding booms. The propellers of enemy drones can get caught by these ropes, just like they are caught in a net. However, with the tether still attached to the Eagle One, the captured drone hangs below it until it lands.
It should be noted that, in at least one existing drone network system, the net remains connected to the defending drone via a tether after being fired, so the captured drone does not drop directly to the ground. That said, since Eagle One has two boom tethers, it can capture two drones per flight. By contrast, most net-shooting drones have only one net, so they must return to base after shooting down another drone.
The system was recently successfully tested in the Czech Republic, where the European AUDROS project team worked closely with the Czech Prison Service – one possible application of the technology is to prevent drones from being used to smuggle items into or out of prisons. Besides Fly4Future and Dronehub, other partners of the AUDROS project include Czech companies BizGarden and GINA Software.