Did police use an anti-drone gun at the Commonwealth Games? Not exactly

Australian police officers detected a drone flying near the Commonwealth Games Athletes Village in Gold Coast, Queensland, on Sunday. And, according to a number of reports, they used a device called a DroneGun, made by Sydney-based DroneShield, to disrupt the radio signals between the drone and its operator, forcing the device to land.

But police have acknowledged that while they are equipped with DroneGuns to keep drones away from the Games, it wasn’t actually used in this case, a police spokesperson told  Fast Company in an email.

Initially, a spokesperson for DroneShield sent a statement to Fast Company about its alleged role“Much of the use of our products is not publicly known. Security and military agencies rarely comment on deployments and specific incidents. We are proud to have secured the skies for the public at the Games, as is evident from this incident which became public.” The police spokesperson later emailed to confirm that the anti-drone technology was not in fact used.

The device was not within restricted airspace near the games, but rather was flying above 400 meters, “which poses a danger to other aircraft and its proximity to the Athletes Village,” according to a statement from the Queensland Police Service to Fast Company.

The police service said that the drone’s pilot landed the device “at his property.” Officers then spoke to the pilot and reported the incident to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, according to police.

“The QPS will use a range of capabilities including DroneShield’s DroneGun to detect, and disrupt unauthorized drone activity during GC2018 to ensure the safety and security of the public,” the police statement said. “Due to operational reasons it is not appropriate to publicly discuss the capabilities of this technology and how the QPS will use it.”

Drones going where they aren’t allowed have unnerved military and security officials around the world, raising concerns of airborne terrorism and accidents near airports; unmanned vehicles have also been used to deliver contraband to prisons. DroneShield, which was founded in Virginia in 2014, is one of a number of companies that sell devices designed to safely disable or even hack errant drones.

There are now at least 235 products aimed at detecting and/or disabling drones, according to a February report by The Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College. The anti-drone industry has grown exponentially in recent years, said the report, but the technology also “poses a wide range of practical, technical, legal, and policy challenges in all operating environments.”SM

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